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Title: Last And First Men
Author: Olaf Stapledon
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LAST AND FIRST MEN
A STORY OF THE NEAR AND FAR FUTURE
by W. Olaf Stapledon



PREFACE


This is a work of fiction. I have tried to invent a story which may
seem a possible, or at least not wholly impossible, account of the
future of man; and I have tried to make that story relevant to the
change that is taking place today in man's outlook.

To romance of the future may seem to be indulgence in ungoverned
speculation for the sake of the marvellous. Yet controlled imagination
in this sphere can be a very valuable exercise for minds bewildered
about the present and its potentialities. Today we should welcome, and
even study, every serious attempt to envisage the future of our race;
not merely in order to grasp the very diverse and often tragic
possibilities that confront us, but also that we may familiarize
ourselves with the certainty that many of our most cherished ideals
would seem puerile to more developed minds. To romance of the far
future, then, is to attempt to see the human race in its cosmic
setting, and to mould our hearts to entertain new values.

But if such imaginative construction of possible futures is to be at
all potent, our imagination must be strictly disciplined. We must
endeavour not to go beyond the bounds of possibility set by the
particular state of culture within which we live. The merely fantastic
has only minor power. Not that we should seek actually to prophesy
what will as a matter of fact occur; for in our present state such
prophecy is certainly futile, save in the simplest matters. We are not
to set up as historians attempting to look ahead instead of backwards.
We can only select a certain thread out of the tangle of many equally
valid possibilities. But we must select with a purpose. The activity
that we are undertaking is not science, but art; and the effect that
it should have on the reader is the effect that art should have.

Yet our aim is not merely to create aesthetically admirable fiction.
We must achieve neither mere history, nor mere fiction, but myth. A
true myth is one which, within the universe of a certain culture
(living or dead), expresses richly, and often perhaps tragically, the
highest admirations possible within that culture. A false myth is one
which either violently transgresses the limits of credibility set by
its own cultural matrix, or expresses admirations less developed than
those of its culture's best vision. This book can no more claim to be
true myth than true prophecy. But it is an essay in myth creation.

The kind of future which is here imagined, should not, I think, seem
wholly fantastic, or at any rate not so fantastic as to be without
significance, to modern western individuals who are familiar with the
outlines of contemporary thought. Had I chosen matter in which there
was nothing whatever of the fantastic, its very plausibility would
have rendered it unplausible. For one thing at least is almost certain
about the future, namely, that very much of it will be such as we
should call incredible. In one important respect, indeed, I may
perhaps seem to have strayed into barren extravagance. I have supposed
an inhabitant of the remote future to be communicating with us of
today. I have pretended that he has the power of partially controlling
the operations of minds now living, and that this book is the product
of such influence. Yet even this fiction is perhaps not wholly
excluded by our thought. I might, of course, easily have omitted it
without more than superficial alteration of the theme. But its
introduction was more than a convenience. Only by some such radical
and bewildering device could I embody the possibility that there may
be more in time's nature than is revealed to us. Indeed, only by some
such trick could I do justice to the conviction that our whole present
mentality is but a confused and halting first experiment.

If ever this book should happen to be discovered by some future
individual, for instance by a member of the next generation sorting
out the rubbish of his predecessors, it will certainly raise a smile;
for very much is bound to happen of which no hint is yet discoverable.
And indeed even in our generation circumstances may well change so
unexpectedly and so radically that this book may very soon look
ridiculous. But no matter. We of today must conceive our relation to
the rest of the universe as best we can; and even if our images must
seem fantastic to future men, they may none the less serve their
purpose today.

Some readers, taking my story to be an attempt at prophecy, may deem
it unwarrantably pessimistic. But it is not prophecy; it is myth, or
an essay in myth. We all desire the future to turn out more happily
than I have figured it. In particular we desire our present
civilization to advance steadily toward some kind of Utopia. The
thought that it may decay and collapse, and that all its spiritual
treasure may be lost irrevocably, is repugnant to us. Yet this must be
faced as at least a possibility. And this kind of tragedy, the tragedy
of a race, must, I think, be admitted in any adequate myth.

And so, while gladly recognizing that in our time there are strong
seeds of hope as well as of despair, I have imagined for aesthetic
purposes that our race will destroy itself. There is today a very
earnest movement for peace and international unity; and surely with
good fortune and intelligent management it may triumph. Most earnestly
we must hope that it will. But I have figured things out in this book
in such a manner that this great movement fails. I suppose it
incapable of preventing a succession of national wars; and I permit it
only to achieve the goal of unity and peace after the mentality of the
race has been undermined. May this not happen! May the League of
Nations, or some more strictly cosmopolitan authority, win through
before it is too late! Yet let us find room in our minds and in our
hearts for the thought that the whole enterprise of our race may be
after all but a minor and unsuccessful episode in a vaster drama,
which also perhaps may be tragic.

Any attempt to conceive such a drama must take into account whatever
contemporary science has to say about man's own nature and his
physical environment. I have tried to supplement my own slight
knowledge of natural science by pestering my scientific friends. In
particular, I have been very greatly helped by conversation with
Professors P. G. H. Boswell, J. Johnstone, and J. Rice, of Liverpool.
But they must not be held responsible for the many deliberate
extravagances which, though they serve a purpose in the design, may
jar upon the scientific ear.

To. Dr. L. A. Reid I am much indebted for general comments, and to Mr.
E. V. Rieu for many very valuable suggestions. To Professor and Mrs.
L. C. Martin, who read the whole book in manuscript, I cannot properly
express my gratitude for constant encouragement and criticism. To my
wife's devastating sanity I owe far more than she supposes.

Before closing this preface I would remind the reader that throughout
the following pages the speaker, the first person singular, is
supposed to be, not the actual writer, but an individual living in the
extremely distant future.



W. O. S.
WEST KIRBY
_July, 1930_



INTRODUCTION BY ONE OF THE LAST MEN


This book has two authors, one contemporary with its readers, the
other an inhabitant of an age which they would call the distant
future. The brain that conceives and writes these sentences lives in
the time of Einstein. Yet I, the true inspirer of this book, I who
have begotten it upon that brain, I who influence that primitive
being's conception, inhabit an age which, for Einstein, lies in the
very remote future.

The actual writer thinks he is merely contriving a work of fiction.
Though he seeks to tell a plausible story, he neither believes it
himself, nor expects others to believe it. Yet the story is true. A
being whom you would call a future man has seized the docile but
scarcely adequate brain of your contemporary, and is trying to direct
its familiar processes for an alien purpose. Thus a future epoch makes
contact with your age. Listen patiently; for we who are the Last Men
earnestly desire to communicate with you, who are members of the First
Human Species. We can help you, and we need your help.

You cannot believe it. Your acquaintance with time is very imperfect,
and so your understanding of it is defeated. But no matter. Do not
perplex yourselves about this truth, so difficult to you, so familiar
to us of a later aeon. Do but entertain, merely as a fiction, the idea
that the thought and will of individuals future to you may intrude,
rarely and with difficulty, into the mental processes of some of your
contemporaries. Pretend that you believe this, and that the following
chronicle is an authentic message from the Last Men. Imagine the
consequences of such a belief. Otherwise I cannot give life to the
great history which it is my task to tell.

When your writers romance of the future, they too easily imagine a
progress toward some kind of Utopia, in which beings like themselves
live in unmitigated bliss among circumstances perfectly suited to a
fixed human nature. I shall not describe any such paradise. Instead, I
shall record huge fluctuations of joy and woe, the results of changes
not only in man's environment but in his fluid nature. And I must tell
how, in my own age, having at last achieved spiritual maturity and the
philosophic mind, man is forced by an unexpected crisis to embark on
an enterprise both repugnant and desperate.

I invite you, then, to travel in imagination through the aeons that
lie between your age and mine. I ask you to watch such a history of
change, grief, hope, and unforeseen catastrophe, as has nowhere else
occurred, within the girdle of the Milky Way. But first, it is well to
contemplate for a few moments the mere magnitudes of cosmical events.
For, compressed as it must necessarily be, the narrative that I have
to tell may seem to present a sequence of adventures and disasters
crowded together, with no intervening peace. But in fact man's career
has been less like a mountain torrent hurtling from rock to rock, than
a great sluggish river, broken very seldom by rapids. Ages of
quiescence, often of actual stagnation, filled with the monotonous
problems and toils of countless almost identical lives, have been
punctuated by rare moments of racial adventure. Nay, even these few
seemingly rapid events themselves were in fact often long-drawn-out
and tedious. They acquire a mere illusion of speed from the speed of
the narrative.

The receding depths of time and space, though they can indeed be
haltingly conceived even by primitive minds, cannot be imaged save by
beings of a more ample nature. A panorama of mountains appears to
naive vision almost as a flat picture, and the starry void is a roof
pricked with light. Yet in reality, while the immediate terrain could
be spanned in an hour's walking, the sky-line of peaks holds within it
plain beyond plain. Similarly with time. While the near past and the
near future display within them depth beyond depth, time's remote
immensities are foreshortened into flatness. It is almost
inconceivable to simple minds that man's whole history should be but a
moment in the life of the stars, and that remote events should embrace
within themselves aeon upon aeon.

In your day you have learnt to calculate something of the magnitudes
of time and space. But to grasp my theme in its true proportions, it
is necessary to do more than calculate. It is necessary to brood upon
these magnitudes, to draw out the mind toward them, to feel the
littleness of your here and now, and of the moment of civilization
which you call history. You cannot hope to image, as we do, such vast
proportions as one in a thousand million, because your sense-organs,
and therefore your perceptions, are too coarse-grained to discriminate
so small a fraction of their total field. But you may at least, by
mere contemplation, grasp more constantly and firmly the significance
of your calculations.

Men of your day, when they look back into the history of their planet,
remark not only the length of time but also the bewildering
acceleration of life's progress. Almost stationary in the earliest
period of the earth's career, in your moment it seems headlong. Mind in
you, it is said, not merely stands higher than ever before in respect
of percipience, knowledge, insight, delicacy of admiration, and sanity
of will, but also it moves upward century by century ever more
swiftly. What next? Surely, you think, there will come a time when
there will be no further heights to conquer.

This view is mistaken. You underestimate even the foothills that stand
in front of you, and never suspect that far above them, hidden by
cloud, rise precipices and snow-fields. The mental and spiritual
advances which, in your day, mind in the solar system has still to
attempt, are overwhelmingly more complex, more precarious and
dangerous, than those which have already been achieved. And though in
certain humble respects you have attained full development, the
loftier potencies of the spirit in you have not yet even begun to put
forth buds.

Somehow, then, I must help you to feel not only the vastness of time
and space, but also the vast diversity of mind's possible modes. But
this I can only hint to you, since so much lies wholly beyond the
range of your imagination.

Historians living in your day need grapple only with one moment of the
flux of time. But I have to present in one book the essence not of
centuries but of aeons. Clearly we cannot walk at leisure through such
a tract, in which a million terrestrial years are but as a year is to
your historians. We must fly. We must travel as you do in your
aeroplanes, observing only the broad features of the continent. But
since the flier sees nothing of the minute inhabitants below him, and
since it is they who make history, we must also punctuate our flight
with many descents, skimming as it were over the house-tops, and even
alighting at critical points to speak face to face with individuals.
And as the plane's journey must begin with a slow ascent from the
intricate pedestrian view to wider horizons, so we must begin with a
somewhat close inspection of that little period which includes the
culmination and collapse of your own primitive civilization.




THE CHRONICLE



CHAPTER I. BALKAN EUROPE


1. THE EUROPEAN WAR AND AFTER


Observe now your own epoch of history as it appears to the Last Men.

Long before the human spirit awoke to clear cognizance of the world
and itself, it sometimes stirred in its sleep, opened bewildered eyes,
and slept again. One of these moments of precocious experience
embraces the whole struggle of the First Men from savagery toward
civilization. Within that moment, you stand almost in the very instant
when the species attains its zenith. Scarcely at all beyond your own
day is this early culture to be seen progressing, and already in your
time the mentality of the race shows signs of decline.

The first, and some would say the greatest, achievement of your own
"Western" culture was the conceiving of two ideals of conduct, both
essential to the spirit's well-being. Socrates, delighting in the
truth for its own sake and not merely for practical ends, glorified
unbiased thinking, honesty of mind and speech. Jesus, delighting in
the actual human persons around him, and in that flavour of divinity
which, for him, pervaded the world, stood for unselfish love of
neighbours and of God. Socrates woke to the ideal of dispassionate
intelligence, Jesus to the ideal of passionate yet self-oblivious
worship. Socrates urged intellectual integrity, Jesus integrity of
will. Each, of course, though starting with a different emphasis,
involved the other.

Unfortunately both these ideals demanded of the human brain a degree
of vitality and coherence of which the nervous system of the First Men
was never really capable. For many centuries these twin stars enticed
the more precociously human of human animals, in vain. And the failure
to put these ideals in practice helped to engender in the race a
cynical lassitude which was one cause of its decay.

There were other causes. The peoples from whom sprang Socrates and
Jesus were also among the first to conceive admiration for Fate. In
Greek tragic art and Hebrew worship of divine law, as also in the
Indian resignation, man experienced, at first very obscurely, that
vision of an alien and supernal beauty, which was to exalt and perplex
him again and again throughout his whole career. The conflict between
this worship and the intransigent loyalty to Life, embattled against
Death, proved insoluble. And though few individuals were ever clearly
conscious of the issue, the first human species was again and again
unwittingly hampered in its spiritual development by this supreme
perplexity.

While man was being whipped and enticed by these precocious
experiences, the actual social constitution of his world kept changing
so rapidly through increased mastery over physical energy, that his
primitive nature could no longer cope with the complexity of his
environment. Animals that were fashioned for hunting and fighting in
the wild were suddenly called upon to be citizens, and moreover
citizens of a world-community. At the same time they found themselves
possessed of certain very dangerous powers which their petty minds
were not fit to use. Man struggled; but, as you shall hear, he broke
under the strain.

The European War, called at the time the War to End War, was the first
and least destructive of those world conflicts which display so
tragically the incompetence of the First Men to control their own
nature. At the outset a tangle of motives, some honourable and some
disreputable, ignited a conflict for which both antagonists were all
too well prepared, though neither seriously intended it. A real
difference of temperament between Latin France and Nordic Germany
combined with a superficial rivalry between Germany and England, and a
number of stupidly brutal gestures on the part of the German
Government and military command, to divide the world into two camps;
yet in such a manner that it is impossible to find any difference of
principle between them. During the struggle each party was convinced
that it alone stood for civilization. But in fact both succumbed now
and again to impulses of sheer brutality, and both achieved acts not
merely of heroism, but of generosity unusual among the First Men. For
conduct which to clearer minds seems merely sane, was in those days to
be performed only by rare vision and self-mastery.

As the months of agony advanced, there was bred in the warring peoples
a genuine and even passionate will for peace and a united world. Out
of the conflict of the tribes arose, at least for a while, a spirit
loftier than tribalism. But this fervour lacked as yet clear guidance,
lacked even the courage of conviction. The peace which followed the
European War is one of the most significant moments of ancient
history; for it epitomizes both the dawning vision and the incurable
blindness, both the impulse toward a higher loyalty and the compulsive
tribalism of a race which was, after all, but superficially human.


2. THE ANGLO-FRENCH WAR


One brief but tragic incident, which occurred within a century after
the European War, may be said to have sealed the fate of the First
Men. During this century the will for peace and sanity was already
becoming a serious factor in history. Save for a number of most
untoward accidents, to be recorded in due course, the party of peace
might have dominated Europe during its most dangerous period; and,
through Europe, the world. With either a little less bad luck or a
fraction more of vision and self-control at this critical time, there
might never have occurred that aeon of darkness, in which the First
Men were presently to be submerged. For had victory been gained before
the general level of mentality had seriously begun to decline, the
attainment of the world state might have been regarded, not as an end,
but as the first step toward true civilization. But this was not to
be.

After the European War, the defeated nation, formerly no less
militaristic than the others, now became the most pacific, and a
stronghold of enlightenment. Almost everywhere, indeed, there had
occurred a profound change of heart, but chiefly in Germany. The
victors on the other hand, in spite of their real craving to be human
and generous, and to found a new world, were led partly by their own
timidity, partly by their governors' blind diplomacy, into all the
vices against which they believed themselves to have been crusading.
After a brief period in which they desperately affected amity for one
another they began to indulge once more in physical conflicts. Of
these conflicts, two must be observed.

The first outbreak, and the less disastrous for Europe, was a short
and grotesque struggle between France and Italy. Since the fall of
ancient Rome, the Italians had excelled more in art and literature
than in martial achievement. But the heroic liberation of Italy in the
nineteenth Christian century had made Italians peculiarly sensitive to
national prestige; and since among Western peoples national vigour was
measured in terms of military glory, the Italians were fired, by their
success against a rickety foreign domination, to vindicate themselves
more thoroughly against the charge of mediocrity in warfare. After the
European War, however, Italy passed through a phase of social disorder
and self-distrust. Subsequently a flamboyant but sincere national
party gained control of the State, and afforded the Italians a new
self-respect, based on reform of the social services, and on
militaristic policy. Trains became punctual, streets clean, morals
puritanical. Aviation records were won for Italy. The young, dressed
up and taught to play at soldiers with real fire-arms, were persuaded
to regard themselves as saviours of the nation, encouraged to shed
blood, and used to enforce the will of the Government. The whole
movement was engineered chiefly by a man whose genius in action
combined with his rhetoric and crudity of thought to make him a very
successful dictator. Almost miraculously he drilled the Italian nation
into efficiency. At the same time, with great emotional effect and
incredible lack of humour, he trumpeted Italy's self-importance, and
her will to "expand." And since Italians were slow to learn the
necessity of restricting their population, "expansion" was a real
need.

Thus it came about that Italy, hungry for French territory in Africa,
jealous of French leadership of the Latin races, indignant at the
protection afforded to Italian "traitors" in France, became
increasingly prone to quarrel with the most assertive of her late
allies. It was a frontier incident, a fancied "insult to the Italian
flag," which at last caused an unauthorized raid upon French territory
by a small party of Italian militia. The raiders were captured, but
French blood was shed. The consequent demand for apology and
reparation was calm, but subtly offensive to Italian dignity. Italian
patriots worked themselves into short-sighted fury. The Dictator, far
from daring to apologize, was forced to require the release of the
captive militia-men, and finally to declare war. After a single sharp
engagement the relentless armies of France pressed into North Italy.
Resistance, at first heroic, soon became chaotic. In consternation the
Italians woke from their dream of military glory. The populace turned
against the Dictator whom they themselves had forced to declare war.
In a theatrical but gallant attempt to dominate the Roman mob, he
failed, and was killed. The new government made a hasty peace, ceding
to France a frontier territory which she had already annexed for
"security."

Thenceforth Italians were less concerned to outshine the glory of
Garibaldi than to emulate the greater glory of Dante, Giotto and
Galileo.

France had now complete mastery of the continent of Europe; but having
much to lose, she behaved arrogantly and nervously. It was not long
before peace was once more disturbed.

Scarcely had the last veterans of the European War ceased from
wearying their juniors with reminiscence, when the long rivalry
between France and England culminated in a dispute between their
respective Governments over a case of sexual outrage said to have been
committed by a French African soldier upon an Englishwoman. In this
quarrel, the British Government happened to be definitely in the
wrong, and was probably confused by its own sexual repressions. The
outrage had never been committed. The facts which gave rise to the
rumour were, that an idle and neurotic Englishwoman in the south of
France, craving the embraces of a "cave man," had seduced a Senegalese
corporal in her own apartments. When, later, he had shown signs of
boredom, she took revenge by declaring that he had attacked her
indecently in the woods above the town. This rumour was such that the
English were all too prone to savour and believe. At the same time,
the magnates of the English Press could not resist this opportunity of
trading upon the public's sexuality, tribalism and self-righteousness.
There followed an epidemic of abuse, and occasional violence, against
French subjects in England; and thus the party of fear and militarism
in France was given the opportunity it had long sought. For the real
cause of this war was connected with air power. France had persuaded
the League of Nations (in one of its less intelligent moments) to
restrict the size of military aeroplanes in such a manner that, while
London lay within easy striking distance of the French coast, Paris
could only with difficulty be touched by England. This state of
affairs obviously could not last long. Britain was agitating more and
more insistently for the removal of the restriction. On the other
hand, there was an increasing demand for complete aerial disarmament
in Europe; and so strong was the party of sanity in France, that the
scheme would almost certainly have been accepted by the French
Government. On both counts, therefore, the militarists of France were
eager to strike while yet there was opportunity.

In an instant, the whole fruit of this effort for disarmament was
destroyed. That subtle difference of mentality which had ever made it
impossible for these two nations to understand one another, was
suddenly exaggerated by this provocative incident into an apparently
insoluble discord. England reverted to her conviction that all
Frenchmen were sensualists, while to France the English appeared, as
often before, the most offensive of hypocrites. In vain did the saner
minds in each country insist on the fundamental humanity of both. In
vain, did the chastened Germans seek to mediate. In vain did the
League, which by now had very great prestige and authority, threaten
both parties with expulsion, even with chastisement. Rumour got about
in Paris that England, breaking all her international pledges, was now
feverishly building giant planes which would wreck France from Calais
to Marseilles. And indeed the rumour was not wholly a slander, for
when the struggle began, the British air force was found to have a
range of intensive action far wider than was expected. Yet the actual
outbreak of war took England by surprise. While the London papers were
selling out upon the news that war was declared, enemy planes appeared
over the city. In a couple of hours a third of London was in ruins,
and half her population lay poisoned in the streets. One bomb, falling
beside the British Museum, turned the whole of Bloomsbury into a
crater, wherein fragments of mummies, statues, and manuscripts were
mingled with the contents of shops, and morsels of salesmen and the
intelligentsia. Thus in a moment was destroyed a large proportion of
England's most precious relics and most fertile brains.

Then occurred one of those microscopic, yet supremely potent incidents
which sometimes mould the course of events for centuries. During the
bombardment a special meeting of the British Cabinet was held in a
cellar in Downing Street. The party in power at the time was
progressive, mildly pacifist, and timorously cosmopolitan. It had got
itself involved in the French quarrel quite unintentionally. At this
Cabinet meeting an idealistic member urged upon his colleagues the
need for a supreme gesture of heroism and generosity on the part of
Britain. Raising his voice with difficulty above the bark of English
guns and the volcanic crash of French bombs, he suggested sending by
radio the following message: "From the people of England to the people
of France. Catastrophe has fallen on us at your hands. In this hour of
agony, all hate and anger have left us. Our eyes are opened. No longer
can we think of ourselves as English merely, and you as merely French;
all of us are, before all else, civilized beings. Do not imagine that
we are defeated, and that this message is a cry for mercy. Our
armament is intact, and our resources still very great. Yet, because
of the revelation which has come to us today, we will not fight. No
plane, no ship, no soldier of Britain shall commit any further act of
hostility. Do what you will. It would be better even that a great
people should be destroyed than that the whole race should be thrown
into turmoil. But you will not strike again. As our own eyes have been
opened by agony, yours now will be opened by our act of brotherhood.
The spirit of France and the spirit of England differ. They differ
deeply; but only as the eye differs from the hand. Without you, we
should be barbarians. And without us, even the bright spirit of France
would be but half expressed. For the spirit of France lives again in
our culture and in our very speech; and the spirit of England is that
which strikes from you your most distinctive brilliance."

At no earlier stage of man's history could such a message have been
considered seriously by any government. Had it been suggested during
the previous war, its author would have been ridiculed, execrated,
perhaps even murdered. But since those days, much had happened.
Increased communication, increased cultural intercourse, and a
prolonged vigorous campaign for cosmopolitanism, had changed the
mentality of Europe. Even so, when, after a brief discussion, the
Government ordered this unique message to be sent, its members were
awed by their own act. As one of them expressed it, they were
uncertain whether it was the devil or the deity that had possessed
them, but possessed they certainly were.

That night the people of London (those who were left) experienced an
exaltation of spirit. Disorganization of the city's life, overwhelming
physical suffering and compassion, the consciousness of an
unprecedented spiritual act in which each individual felt himself to
have somehow participated--these influences combined to produce, even
in the bustle and confusion of a wrecked metropolis, a certain
restrained fervour, and a deep peace of mind, wholly unfamiliar to
Londoners.

Meanwhile the undamaged North knew not whether to regard the
Government's sudden pacificism as a piece of cowardice or as a
superbly courageous gesture. Very soon, however, they began to make a
virtue of necessity, and incline to the latter view. Paris itself was
divided by the message into a vocal party of triumph and a silent
party of bewilderment. But as the hours advanced, and the former urged
a policy of aggression, the latter found voice for the cry, "_Viva
l'Angleterre, viva l'humanitÚ._" And so strong by now was the will for
cosmopolitanism that the upshot would almost certainly have been a
triumph of sanity, had there not occurred in England an accident which
tilted the whole precarious course of events in the opposite
direction.

The bombardment had occurred on a Friday night. On Saturday the
repercussions of England's great message were echoing throughout the
nations. That evening, as a wet and foggy day was achieving its pallid
sunset, a French plane was seen over the western outskirts of London.
It gradually descended, and was regarded by onlookers as a messenger
of peace. Lower and lower it came. Something was seen to part from it
and fall. In a few seconds an immense explosion occurred in the
neighbourhood of a great school and a royal palace. There was hideous
destruction in the school. The palace escaped. But, chief disaster for
the cause of peace, a beautiful and extravagantly popular young
princess was caught by the explosion. Her body, obscenely mutilated,
but still recognizable to every student of the illustrated papers, was
impaled upon some high park-railings beside the main thoroughfare
toward the city. Immediately after the explosion the enemy plane
crashed, burst into flame, and was destroyed with its occupants.

A moment's cool thinking would have convinced all onlookers that this
disaster was an accident, that the plane was a belated straggler in
distress, and no messenger of hate. But, confronted with the mangled
bodies of schoolboys, and harrowed by cries of agony and terror, the
populace was in no state for ratiocination. Moreover there was the
princess, an overwhelmingly potent sexual symbol and emblem of
tribalism, slaughtered and exposed before the eyes of her adorers.

The news was flashed over the country, and distorted of course in such
a manner as to admit no doubt that this act was the crowning deviltry
of sexual fiends beyond the Channel. In an hour the mood of London was
changed, and the whole population of England succumbed to a paroxysm
of primitive hate far more extravagant than any that had occurred even
in the war against Germany. The British air force, all too well
equipped and prepared, was ordered to Paris.

Meanwhile in France the militaristic government had fallen, and the
party of peace was now in control. While the streets were still
thronged by its vociferous supporters, the first bomb fell. By Monday
morning Paris was obliterated. There followed a few days of strife
between the opposing armaments, and of butchery committed upon the
civilian populations. In spite of French gallantry, the superior
organization, mechanical efficiency, and more cautious courage of the
British Air Force soon made it impossible for a French plane to leave
the ground. But if France was broken, England was too crippled to
pursue her advantage. Every city of the two countries was completely
disorganized. Famine, riot, looting, and above all the rapidly
accelerating and quite uncontrollable spread of disease, disintegrated
both States, and brought war to a standstill.

Indeed, not only did hostilities cease, but also both nations were too
shattered even to continue hating one another. The energies of each
were for a while wholly occupied in trying to prevent complete
annihilation by famine and pestilence. In the work of reconstruction
they had to depend very largely on help from outside. The management
of each country was taken over, for the time, by the League of
Nations.

It is significant to compare the mood of Europe at this time with that
which followed the European War. Formerly, though there had been a
real effort toward unity, hate and suspicion continued to find
expression in national policies. There was much wrangling about
indemnities, reparations, securities; and the division of the whole
continent into two hostile camps persisted, though by then it was
purely artificial and sentimental. But after the Anglo-French war, a
very different mood prevailed. There was no mention of reparations, no
possibility of seeking security by alliances. Patriotism simply faded
out, for the time, under the influence of extreme disaster. The two
enemy peoples co-operated with the League in the work of
reconstructing not only each one itself, but each one the other. This
change of heart was due partly to the temporary collapse of the whole
national organization, partly to the speedy dominance of each nation
by pacifist and anti-nationalist Labour, partly to the fact that the
League was powerful enough to inquire into and publish the whole story
of the origins of the war, and expose each combatant to itself and to
the world in a sorry light.

We have now observed in some detail the incident which stands out in
man's history as perhaps the most dramatic example of petty cause and
mighty effect. For consider. Through some miscalculation, or a mere
defect in his instruments, a French airman went astray, and came to
grief in London after the sending of the peace message. Had this not
happened, England and France would not have been wrecked. And, had the
war been nipped at the outset, as it almost was, the party of sanity
throughout the world would have been very greatly strengthened; the
precarious will to unity would have gained the conviction which it
lacked, would have dominated man not merely during the terrified
revulsion after each spasm of national strife, but as a permanent
policy based on mutual trust. Indeed so delicately balanced were man's
primitive and developed impulses at this time, that but for this
trivial accident, the movement which was started by England's peace
message might have proceeded steadily and rapidly toward the
unification of the race. It might, that is, have attained its goal,
before, instead of after, the period of mental deterioration, which in
fact resulted from a long epidemic of wars. And so the first Dark Age
might never have occurred.


3. EUROPE AFTER THE ANGLO-FRENCH WAR


A subtle change now began to affect the whole mental climate of the
planet. This is remarkable, since, viewed for instance from America or
China, this war was, after all, but a petty disturbance, scarcely more
than a brawl between quarrelsome statelets, an episode in the decline
of a senile civilization. Expressed in dollars, the damage was not
impressive to the wealthy West and the potentially wealthy East. The
British Empire, indeed, that unique banyan tree of peoples, was
henceforward less effective in world diplomacy; but since the bond
that held it together was by now wholly a bond of sentiment, the
Empire was not disintegrated by the misfortune of its parent trunk.
Indeed, a common fear of American economic imperialism was already
helping the colonies to remain loyal.

Yet this petty brawl was in fact an irreparable and far reaching
disaster. For in spite of those differences of temperament which had
forced the English and French into conflict, they had co-operated,
though often unwittingly, in tempering and clarifying the mentality of
Europe. Though their faults played a great part in wrecking Western
civilization, the virtues from which these vices sprang were needed
for the salvation of a world prone to uncritical romance. In spite of
the inveterate blindness and meanness of France in international
policy, and the even more disastrous timidity of England, their
influence on culture had been salutary, and was at this moment sorely
needed. For, poles asunder in tastes and ideals, these two peoples
were yet alike in being on the whole more sceptical, and in their
finest individuals more capable of dispassionate yet creative
intelligence, than any other Western people. This very character
produced their distinctive faults, namely, in the English a caution
that amounted often to moral cowardice, and in the French a certain
myopic complacency and cunning, which masqueraded as realism. Within
each nation there was, of course, great variety. English minds were of
many types. But most were to some extent distinctively English; and
hence the special character of England's influence in the world.
Relatively detached, sceptical, cautious, practical, more tolerant
than others, because more complacent and less prone to fervour, the
typical Englishman was capable both of generosity and of spite, both
of heroism and of timorous or cynical abandonment of ends proclaimed
as vital to the race. French and English alike might sin against
humanity, but in different manners. The French sinned blindly, through
a strange inability to regard France dispassionately. The English
sinned through faint-heartedness, and with open eyes. Among all
nations they excelled in the union of common sense and vision. But
also among all nations they were most ready to betray their visions in
the name of common sense. Hence their reputation for perfidy.

Differences of national character and patriotic sentiment were not the
most fundamental distinctions between men at this time. Although in
each nation a common tradition or cultural environment imposed a
certain uniformity on all its members, yet in each nation every mental
type was present, though in different proportions. The most
significant of all cultural differences between men, namely, the
difference between the tribalists and the cosmopolitans, traversed the
national boundaries. For throughout the world something like a new,
cosmopolitan "nation" with a new all-embracing patriotism was
beginning to appear. In every land there was by now a salting of
awakened minds who, whatever their temperament and politics and formal
faith, were at one in respect of their allegiance to humanity as a
race or as an adventuring spirit. Unfortunately this new loyalty was
still entangled with old prejudices. In some minds the defence of the
human spirit was sincerely identified with the defence of a particular
nation, conceived as the home of all enlightenment. In others, social
injustice kindled a militant proletarian loyalty, which, though at
heart cosmopolitan, infected alike its champions and its enemies with
sectarian passions.

Another sentiment, less definite and conscious than cosmopolitanism,
also played some part in the minds of men, namely loyalty toward the
dispassionate intelligence, and perplexed admiration of the world
which it was beginning to reveal, a world august, immense, subtle, in
which, seemingly, man was doomed to play a part minute but tragic. In
many races there had, no doubt, long existed some fidelity toward the
dispassionate intelligence. But it was England and France that
excelled in this respect. On the other hand, even in these two nations
there was much that was opposed to this allegiance. These, like all
peoples of the age, were liable to bouts of insane emotionalism.
Indeed the French mind, in general so clear sighted, so realistic, so
contemptuous of ambiguity and mist, so detached in all its final
valuations, was yet so obsessed with the idea "France" as to be wholly
incapable of generosity in international affairs. But it was France,
with England, that had chiefly inspired the intellectual integrity
which was the rarest and brightest thread of Western culture, not only
within the territories of these two nations, but throughout Europe and
America. In the seventeenth and eighteenth Christian centuries, the
French and English had conceived, more clearly than other peoples, an
interest in the objective world for its own sake, had founded physical
science, and had fashioned out of scepticism the most brilliantly
constructive of mental instruments. At a later stage it was largely
the French and English who, by means of this instrument, had revealed
man and the physical universe in something like their true
proportions; and it was chiefly the elect of these two peoples that
had been able to exult in this bracing discovery.

With the eclipse of France and England this great tradition of
dispassionate cognizance began to wane. Europe was now led by Germany.
And the Germans, in spite of their practical genius, their scholarly
contributions to history, their brilliant science and austere
philosophy, were at heart romantic. This inclination was both their
strength and their weakness. Thereby they had been inspired to their
finest art and their most profound metaphysical speculation. But
thereby they were also often rendered un-self-critical and pompous.
More eager than Western minds to solve the mystery of existence, less
sceptical of the power of human reason, and therefore more inclined to
ignore or argue away recalcitrant facts, the Germans were courageous
systematizers. In this direction they had achieved greatly. Without
them, European thought would have been chaotic. But their passion for
order and for a systematic reality behind the disorderly appearances,
rendered their reasoning all too often biased. Upon shifty foundations
they balanced ingenious ladders to reach the stars. Thus, without
constant ribald criticism from across the Rhine and the North Sea, the
Teutonic soul could not achieve full self-expression. A vague
uneasiness about its own sentimentalism and lack of detachment did
indeed persuade this great people to assert its virility now and again
by ludicrous acts of brutality, and to compensate for its dream life
by ceaseless hard-driven and brilliantly successful commerce; but what
was needed was a far more radical self-criticism.

Beyond Germany, Russia. Here was a people whose genius needed, even
more than that of the Germans, discipline under the critical
intelligence. Since the Bolshevic revolution, there had risen in the
scattered towns of this immense tract of corn and forest, and still
more in the metropolis, an original mode of art and thought, in which
were blended a passion of iconoclasm, a vivid sensuousness, and yet
also a very remarkable and essentially mystical or intuitive power of
detachment from all private cravings. America and Western Europe were
interested first in the individual human life, and only secondarily in
the social whole. For these peoples, loyalty involved a reluctant
self-sacrifice, and the ideal was ever a person, excelling in prowess
of various kinds. Society was but the necessary matrix of this jewel.
But the Russians, whether by an innate gift, or through the influence
of agelong political tyranny, religious devotion, and a truly social
revolution, were prone to self-contemptuous interest in groups, prone,
indeed, to a spontaneous worship of whatever was conceived as loftier
than the individual man, whether society, or God, or the blind forces
of nature. Western Europe could reach by way of the intellect a
precise conception of man's littleness and irrelevance when regarded
as an alien among the stars; could even glimpse from this standpoint
the cosmic theme in which all human striving is but one contributory
factor. But the Russian mind, whether orthodox or Tolstoyan or
fanatically materialist, could attain much the same conviction
intuitively, by direct perception, instead of after an arduous
intellectual pilgrimage; and, reaching it, could rejoice in it. But
because of this independence of intellect, the experience was
confused, erratic, frequently misinterpreted; and its effect on
conduct was rather explosive than directive. Great indeed was the need
that the West and East of Europe should strengthen and temper one
another.

After the Bolshevic revolution a new element appeared in Russian
culture, and one which had not been known before in any modern state.
The old regime was displaced by a real proletarian government, which,
though an oligarchy, and sometimes bloody and fanatical, abolished the
old tyranny of class, and encouraged the humblest citizen to be proud
of his partnership in the great community. Still more important, the
native Russian disposition not to take material possessions very
seriously co-operated with the political revolution, and brought about
such a freedom from the snobbery of wealth as was quite foreign to the
West. Attention which elsewhere was absorbed in the massing or display
of money was in Russia largely devoted either to spontaneous
instinctive enjoyments or to cultural activity.

In fact it was among the Russian townsfolk, less cramped by tradition
than other city-dwellers, that the spirit of the First Men was
beginning to achieve a fresh and sincere readjustment to the facts of
its changing world. And from the townsfolk something of the new way of
life was spreading even to the peasants; while in the depths of Asia a
hardy and ever-growing population looked increasingly to Russia, not
only for machinery, but for ideas. There were times when it seemed
that Russia might transform the almost universal autumn of the race
into a new spring.

After the Bolshevic revolution the New Russia had been boycotted by
the West, and had therefore passed through a stage of self-conscious
extravagance. Communism and na´ve materialism became the dogmas of a
new crusading atheist church. All criticism was suppressed, even more
rigorously than was the opposite criticism in other countries; and
Russians were taught to think of themselves as saviours of mankind.
Later, however, as economic isolation began to hamper the Bolshevic
state, the new culture was mellowed and broadened. Bit by bit,
economic intercourse with the West was restored, and with it cultural
intercourse increased. The intuitive mystical detachment of Russia
began to define itself, and so consolidate itself, in terms of the
intellectual detachment of the best thought of the West. Iconoclasm
was harnessed. The life of the senses and of impulse was tempered by a
new critical movement. Fanatical materialism, whose fire had been
derived from a misinterpreted, but intense, mystical intuition of
dispassionate Reality, began to assimilate itself to the far more
rational stoicism which was the rare flower of the West. At the same
time, through intercourse with peasant culture and with the peoples of
Asia, the new Russia began to grasp in one unifying act of
apprehension both the grave disillusion of France and England and the
ecstasy of the East.

The harmonizing of these two moods was now the chief spiritual need of
mankind. Failure to integrate them into an all-dominant sentiment
could not but lead to racial insanity. And so in due course it befell.
Meanwhile this task of integration was coming to seem more and more
urgent to the best minds in Russia, and might have been finally
accomplished had they been longer illumined by the cold light of the
West.

But this was not to be. The intellectual confidence of France and
England, already shaken through progressive economic eclipse at the
hands of America and Germany, was now undermined. For many decades
England had watched these newcomers capture her markets. The loss had
smothered her with a swarm of domestic problems, such as could never
be solved save by drastic surgery; and this was a course which
demanded more courage and energy than was possible to a people without
hope. Then came the war with France, and harrowing disintegration. No
delirium seized her, such as occurred in France; yet her whole
mentality was changed, and her sobering influence in Europe was
lessened.

As for France, her cultural life was now grievously reduced. It might,
indeed, have recovered from the final blow, had it not already been
slowly poisoned by gluttonous nationalism. For love of France was the
undoing of the French. They prized the truly admirable spirit of
France so extravagantly, that they regarded all other nations as
barbarians.

Thus it befell that in Russia the doctrines of communism and
materialism, products of German systematists, survived uncriticized.
On the other hand, the practice of communism was gradually undermined.
For the Russian state came increasingly under the influence of
Western, and especially American, finance. The materialism of the
official creed also became a farce, for it was foreign to the Russian
mind. Thus between practice and theory there was, in both respects, a
profound inconsistency. What was once a vital and promising culture
became insincere.


4. THE RUSSO-GERMAN WAR


The discrepancy between communist theory and individualist practice in
Russia was one cause of the next disaster which befell Europe. Between
Russia and Germany there should have been close partnership, based on
interchange of machinery and corn. But the theory of communism stood
in the way, and in a strange manner. Russian industrial organization
had proved impossible without American capital; and little by little
this influence had transformed the communistic system. From the Baltic
to the Himalayas and the Behring Straits, pasture, timber lands,
machine-tilled corn-land, oil fields, and a spreading rash of
industrial towns, were increasingly dependent on American finance and
organization. Yet not America, but the far less individualistic
Germany, had become in the Russian mind the symbol of capitalism.
Self-righteous hate of Germany compensated Russia for her own betrayal
of the communistic ideal. This perverse antagonism was encouraged by
the Americans; who, strong in their own individualism and prosperity,
and by now contemptuously tolerant of Russian doctrines, were
concerned only to keep Russian finance to themselves. In truth, of
course, it was America that had helped Russia's self-betrayal; and it
was the spirit of America that was most alien to the Russian spirit.
But American wealth was by now indispensable to Russia; so the hate
due to America had to be borne vicariously by Germany.

The Germans, for their part, were aggrieved that the Americans had
ousted them from a most profitable field of enterprise, and in
particular from the exploitation of Russian Asiatic oil. The economic
life of the human race had for some time been based on coal, but
latterly oil had been found a far more convenient source of power; and
as the oil store of the planet was much smaller than its coal store,
and the expenditure of oil had of course been wholly uncontrolled and
wasteful, a shortage was already being felt. Thus the national
ownership of the remaining oil fields had become a main factor in
politics and a fertile source of wars. America, having used up most of
her own supplies, was now anxious to compete with the still prolific
sources under Chinese control, by forestalling Germany in Russia. No
wonder the Germans were aggrieved. But the fault was their own. In the
days when Russian communism had been seeking to convert the world,
Germany had taken over England's leadership of individualistic Europe.
While greedy for trade with Russia, she had been at the same time
frightened of contamination by Russian social doctrine, the more so
because communism had at first made some headway among the German
workers. Later, even when sane industrial reorganization in Germany
had deprived communism of its appeal to the workers, and thus had
rendered it impotent, the habit of anti-communist vituperation
persisted.

Thus the peace of Europe was in constant danger from the bickerings of
two peoples who differed rather in ideals than in practice. For the
one, in theory communistic, had been forced to delegate many of the
community's rights to enterprising individuals; while the other, in
theory organized on a basis of private business, was becoming ever
more socialized.

Neither party desired war. Neither was interested in military glory,
for militarism as an end was no longer reputable. Neither was
professedly nationalistic, for nationalism, though still potent, was
no longer vaunted. Each claimed to stand for internationalism and
peace, but accused the other of narrow patriotism. Thus Europe, though
more pacific than ever before, was doomed to war.

Like most wars, the Anglo-French War had increased the desire for
peace, yet made peace less secure. Distrust, not merely the old
distrust of nation for nation, but a devastating distrust of human
nature, gripped men like the dread of insanity. Individuals who
thought of themselves as wholehearted Europeans, feared that at any
moment they might succumb to some ridiculous epidemic of patriotism
and participate in the further crippling of Europe.

This dread was one cause of the formation of a European Confederacy,
in which all the nations of Europe, save Russia, surrendered their
sovereignty to a common authority and actually pooled their armaments.
Ostensibly the motive of this act was peace; but America interpreted
it as directed against herself, and withdrew from the League of
Nations. China, the "natural enemy" of America, remained within the
League, hoping to use it against her rival.

From without, indeed, the Confederacy at first appeared as a close-knit
whole; but from within it was known to be insecure, and in every
serious crisis it broke. There is no need to follow the many minor
wars of this period, though their cumulative effect was serious, both
economically and psychologically. Europe did at last, however, become
something like a single nation in sentiment, though this unity was
brought about less by a common loyalty than by a common fear of
America.

Final consolidation was the fruit of the Russo-German War, the cause
of which was partly economic and partly sentimental. All the peoples
of Europe had long watched with horror the financial conquest of
Russia by the United States, and they dreaded that they also must
presently succumb to the same tyrant. To attack Russia, it was
thought, would be to wound America in her only vulnerable spot. But
the actual occasion of the war was sentimental. Half a century after
the Anglo-French War, a second-rate German author published a
typically German book of the baser sort. For as each nation had its
characteristic virtues, so also each was prone to characteristic
follies. This book was one of those brilliant but extravagant works in
which the whole diversity of existence is interpreted under a single
formula, with extreme detail and plausibility, yet with amazing
_na´vetÚ_. Highly astute within its own artificial universe, it was
none the less in wider regard quite uncritical. In two large volumes
the author claimed that the cosmos was a dualism in which a heroic and
obviously Nordic spirit ruled by divine right over an un-self-disciplined,
yet servile and obviously Slavonic spirit. The whole of
history, and of evolution, was interpreted on this principle; and of
the contemporary world it was said that the Slavonic element was
poisoning Europe. One phrase in particular caused fury in Moscow, "the
anthropoid face of the Russian sub-man."

Moscow demanded apology and suppression of the book. Berlin regretted
the insult, but with its tongue in its cheek; and insisted on the
freedom of the press. Followed a crescendo of radio hate, and war.

The details of this war do not matter to one intent upon the history
of mind in the Solar System, but its result was important. Moscow,
Leningrad and Berlin were shattered from the air. The whole West of
Russia was flooded with the latest and deadliest poison gas, so that,
not only was all animal and vegetable life destroyed, but also the
soil between the Black Sea and the Baltic was rendered infertile and
uninhabitable for many years. Within a week the war was over, for the
reason that the combatants were separated by an immense territory in
which life could not exist. But the effects of the war were lasting.
The Germans had set going a process which they could not stop. Whiffs
of the poison continued to be blown by fickle winds into every country
of Europe and Western Asia. It was spring-time; but save in the
Atlantic coast-lands the spring flowers shrivelled in the bud, and
every young leaf had a withered rim. Humanity also suffered; though,
save in the regions near the seat of war, it was in general only the
children and the old people who suffered greatly. The poison spread
across the Continent in huge blown tresses, broad as principalities,
swinging with each change of wind. And wherever it strayed, young
eyes, throats, and lungs were blighted like the leaves.

America, after much debate, had at last decided to defend her
interests in Russia by a punitive expedition against Europe. China
began to mobilize her forces. But long before America was ready to
strike, news of the widespread poisoning changed her policy. Instead
of punishment, help was given. This was a fine gesture of goodwill.
But also, as was observed in Europe, instead of being costly, it was
profitable; for inevitably it brought more of Europe under American
financial control.

The upshot of the Russo-German war, then, was that Europe was unified
in sentiment by hatred of America, and that European mentality
definitely deteriorated. This was due in part to the emotional
influence of the war itself, partly to the socially damaging effects
of the poison. A proportion of the rising generation had been rendered
sickly for life. During the thirty years which intervened before the
Euro-American war, Europe was burdened with an exceptional weight of
invalids. First-class intelligence was on the whole rarer than before,
and was more strictly concentrated on the practical work of
reconstruction.

Even more disastrous for the human race was the fact that the recent
Russian cultural enterprise of harmonizing Western intellectualism and
Eastern mysticism was now wrecked.



CHAPTER II. EUROPE'S DOWNFALL


1. EUROPE AND AMERICA


Over the heads of the European tribes two mightier peoples regarded
each other with increasing dislike. Well might they; for the one
cherished the most ancient and refined of all surviving cultures,
while the other, youngest and most self-confident of the great
nations, proclaimed her novel spirit as the spirit of the future.

In the Far East, China, already half American, though largely Russian
and wholly Eastern, patiently improved her rice lands, pushed forward
her railways, organized her industries, and spoke fair to all the
world. Long ago, during her attainment of unity and independence,
China had learnt much from militant Bolshevism. And after the collapse
of the Russian state it was in the East that Russian culture continued
to live. Its mysticism influenced India. Its social ideal influenced
China. Not indeed that China took over the theory, still less the
practice, of communism; but she learnt to entrust herself increasingly
to a vigorous, devoted and despotic party, and to feel in terms of the
social whole rather than individualistically. Yet she was honeycombed
with individualism, and in spite of her rulers she had precipitated a
submerged and desperate class of wage slaves.

In the Far West, the United States of America openly claimed to be
custodians of the whole planet. Universally feared and envied,
universally respected for their enterprise, yet for their complacency
very widely despised, the Americans were rapidly changing the whole
character of man's existence. By this time every human being
throughout the planet made use of American products, and there was no
region where American capital did not support local labour. Moreover
the American press, gramophone, radio, cinematograph and televisor
ceaselessly drenched the planet with American thought. Year by year
the aether reverberated with echoes of New York's pleasures and the
religious fervours of the Middle West. What wonder, then, that
America, even while she was despised, irresistibly moulded the whole
human race. This, perhaps, would not have mattered, had America been
able to give of her very rare best. But inevitably only her worst
could be propagated. Only the most vulgar traits of that potentially
great people could get through into the minds of foreigners by means
of these crude instruments. And so, by the floods of poison issuing
from this people's baser members, the whole world, and with it the
nobler parts of America herself, were irrevocably corrupted.

For the best of America was too weak to withstand the worst. Americans
had indeed contributed amply to human thought. They had helped to
emancipate philosophy from ancient fetters. They had served science by
lavish and rigorous research. In astronomy, favoured by their costly
instruments and clear atmosphere, they had done much to reveal the
dispositions of the stars and galaxies. In literature, though often
they behaved as barbarians, they had also conceived new modes of
expression, and moods of thought not easily appreciated in Europe.
They had also created a new and brilliant architecture. And their
genius for organization worked upon a scale that was scarcely
conceivable, let alone practicable, to other peoples. In fact their
best minds faced old problems of theory and of valuation with a fresh
innocence and courage, so that fogs of superstition were cleared away
wherever these choice Americans were present. But these best were
after all a minority in a huge wilderness of opinionated self-deceivers,
in whom, surprisingly, an outworn religious dogma was
championed with the intolerant optimism of youth. For this was
essentially a race of bright, but arrested, adolescents. Something
lacked which should have enabled them to grow up. One who looks back
across the aeons to this remote people can see their fate already
woven of their circumstance and their disposition, and can appreciate
the grim jest that these, who seemed to themselves gifted to
rejuvenate the planet, should have plunged it, inevitably, through
spiritual desolation into senility and age-long night.

Inevitably. Yet here was a people of unique promise, gifted innately
beyond all other peoples. Here was a race brewed of all the races, and
mentally more effervescent than any. Here were intermingled
Anglo-Saxon stubbornness, Teutonic genius for detail and systematization,
Italian gaiety, the intense fire of Spain, and the more mobile Celtic
flame. Here also was the sensitive and stormy Slav, a youth-giving
Negroid infusion, a faint but subtly stimulating trace of the Red Man,
and in the West a sprinkling of the Mongol. Mutual intolerance no
doubt isolated these diverse stocks to some degree; yet the whole was
increasingly one people, proud of its individuality, of its success,
of its idealistic mission in the world, proud also of its optimistic
and anthropocentric view of the universe. What might not this energy
have achieved, had it been more critically controlled, had it been
forced to attend to life's more forbidding aspects! Direct tragic
experience might perhaps have opened the hearts of this people.
Intercourse with a more mature culture might have refined their
intelligence. But the very success which had intoxicated them rendered
them also too complacent to learn from less prosperous competitors.

Yet there was a moment when this insularity promised to wane. So long
as England was a serious economic rival, America inevitably regarded
her with suspicion. But when England was seen to be definitely in
economic decline, yet culturally still at her zenith, America
conceived a more generous interest in the last and severest phase of
English thought. Eminent Americans themselves began to whisper that
perhaps their unrivalled prosperity was not after all good evidence
either of their own spiritual greatness or of the moral rectitude of
the universe. A minute but persistent school of writers began to
affirm that America lacked self-criticism, was incapable of seeing the
joke against herself, was in fact wholly devoid of that detachment and
resignation which was the finest, though of course the rarest, mood of
latter-day England. This movement might well have infused throughout
the American people that which was needed to temper their barbarian
egotism, and open their ears once more to the silence beyond man's
strident sphere. Once more, for only latterly had they been seriously
deafened by the din of their own material success. And indeed,
scattered over the continent throughout this whole period, many
shrinking islands of true culture contrived to keep their heads above
the rising tide of vulgarity and superstition. These it was that had
looked to Europe for help, and were attempting a rally when England
and France blundered into that orgy of emotionalism and murder which
exterminated so many of their best minds and permanently weakened
their cultural influence.

Subsequently it was Germany that spoke for Europe. And Germany was too
serious an economic rival for America to be open to her influence.
Moreover German criticism, though often emphatic, was too heavily
pedantic, too little ironical, to pierce the hide of American
complacency. Thus it was that America sank further and further into
Americanism. Vast wealth and industry, and also brilliant invention,
were concentrated upon puerile ends. In particular the whole of
American life was organized around the cult of the powerful
individual, that phantom ideal which Europe herself had only begun to
outgrow in her last phase. Those Americans who wholly failed to
realize this ideal, who remained at the bottom of the social ladder,
either consoled themselves with hopes for the future, or stole
symbolical satisfaction by identifying themselves with some popular
star, or gloated upon their American citizenship, and applauded the
arrogant foreign policy of their government. Those who achieved power
were satisfied so long as they could merely retain it, and advertise
it uncritically in the conventionally self-assertive manners.

It was almost inevitable that when Europe had recovered from the
Russo-German disaster she should come to blows with America; for she
had long chafed under the saddle of American finance, and the daily
life of Europeans had become more and more cramped by the presence of
a widespread and contemptuous foreign "aristocracy" of American
business men. Germany alone was comparatively free from this
domination, for Germany was herself still a great economic power. But
in Germany, no less than elsewhere, there was constant friction with
the Americans.

Of course neither Europe nor America desired war. Each was well aware
that war would mean the end of business prosperity, and for Europe
very possibly the end of all things; for it was known that man's power
of destruction had recently increased, and that if war were waged
relentlessly, the stronger side might exterminate the other. But
inevitably an "incident" at last occurred which roused blind rage on
each side of the Atlantic. A murder in South Italy, a few ill-considered
remarks in the European Press, offensive retaliation in the
American Press accompanied by the lynching of an Italian in the Middle
West, an uncontrollable massacre of American citizens in Rome, the
dispatch of an American air fleet to occupy Italy, interception by the
European air fleet, and war was in existence before ever it had been
declared. This aerial action resulted, perhaps unfortunately for
Europe, in a momentary check to the American advance. The enemy was
put on his mettle, and prepared a crushing blow.


2. THE ORIGINS OF A MYSTERY


While the Americans were mobilizing their whole armament, there
occurred the really interesting event of the war. It so happened that
an international society of scientific workers was meeting in England
at Plymouth, and a young Chinese physicist had expressed his desire to
make a report to a select committee. As he had been experimenting to
find means for the utilization of subatomic energy by the annihilation
of matter, it was with some excitement that, according to instruction,
the forty international representatives travelled to the north coast
of Devon and met upon the bare headland called Hartland Point.

It was a bright morning after rain. Eleven miles to the north-west,
the cliffs of Lundy Island displayed their markings with unusual
detail. Sea-birds wheeled about the heads of the party as they seated
themselves on their raincoats in a cluster upon the rabbit-cropped
turf.

They were a remarkable company, each one of them a unique person, yet
characterized to some extent by his particular national type. And all
were distinctively "scientists" of the period. Formerly this would
have implied a rather uncritical leaning toward materialism, and an
affectation of cynicism; but by now it was fashionable to profess an
equally uncritical belief that all natural phenomena were
manifestations of the cosmic mind. In both periods, when a man passed
beyond the sphere of his own serious scientific work he chose his
beliefs irresponsibly, according to his taste, much as he chose his
recreation or his food.

Of the individuals present we may single out one or two for notice.
The German, an anthropologist, and a product of the long-established
cult of physical and mental health, sought to display in his own
athletic person the characters proper to Nordic man. The Frenchman, an
old but still sparkling psychologist, whose queer hobby was the
collecting of weapons, ancient and modern, regarded the proceedings
with kindly cynicism. The Englishman, one of the few remaining
intellectuals of his race, compensated for the severe study of physics
by a scarcely less devoted research into the history of English
expletives and slang, delighting to treat his colleagues to the fruits
of his toil. The West African president of the Society was a
biologist, famous for his interbreeding of man and ape.

When all were settled, the President explained the purpose of the
meeting. The utilization of subatomic energy had indeed been achieved,
and they were to be given a demonstration.

The young Mongol stood up, and produced from a case an instrument
rather like the old-fashioned rifle. Displaying this object, he spoke
as follows, with that quaintly stilted formality which had once been
characteristic of all educated Chinese: "Before describing the details
of my rather delicate process, I will illustrate its importance by
showing what can be done with the finished product. Not only can I
initiate the annihilation of matter, but also I can do so at a
distance and in a precise direction. Moreover, I can inhibit the
process. As a means of destruction, my instrument is perfect. As a
source of power for the constructive work of mankind, it has unlimited
potentiality. Gentlemen, this is a great moment in the history of Man.
I am about to render into the hands of organized intelligence the
means to stop for ever man's internecine brawls. Henceforth this great
Society, of which you are the _elite_, will beneficently rule the
planet. With this little instrument you will stop the ridiculous war;
and with another, which I shall soon perfect, you will dispense
unlimited industrial power wherever you consider it needed. Gentlemen,
with the aid of this handy instrument which I have the honour to
demonstrate, you are able to become absolute masters of this planet."

Here the representative of England muttered an archaism whose
significance was known only to himself, "Gawd 'elp us!" In the minds
of some of those foreigners who were not physicists this quaint
expression was taken to be a technical word having some connexion with
the new source of energy.

The Mongol continued. Turning towards Lundy, he said, "That island is
no longer inhabited, and as it is something of a danger to shipping, I
will remove it." So saying he aimed his instrument at the distant
cliff, but continued speaking. "This trigger will stimulate the
ultimate positive and negative charges which constitute the atoms at a
certain point on the rock face to annihilate each other. These
stimulated atoms will infect their neighbours, and so on indefinitely.
This second trigger, however, will stop the actual annihilation. Were
I to refrain from using it, the process would indeed continue
indefinitely, perhaps until the whole of the planet had
disintegrated."

There was an anxious movement among the spectators, but the young man
took careful aim, and pressed the two triggers in quick succession. No
sound from the instrument. No visible effect upon the smiling face of
the island. Laughter began to gurgle from the Englishman, but ceased.
For a dazzling point of light appeared on the remote cliff. It
increased in size and brilliance, till all eyes were blinded in the
effort to continue watching. It lit up the under parts of the clouds
and blotted out the sun-cast shadows of gorse bushes beside the
spectators. The whole end of the island facing the mainland was now an
intolerable scorching sun. Presently, however, its fury was veiled in
clouds of steam from the boiling sea. Then suddenly the whole island,
three miles of solid granite, leaped asunder; so that a covey of great
rocks soared heavenward, and beneath them swelled more slowly a
gigantic mushroom of steam and debris. Then the sound arrived. All
hands were clapped to ears, while eyes still strained to watch the
bay, pocked white with the hail of rocks. Meanwhile a great wall of
sea advanced from the centre of turmoil. This was seen to engulf a
coasting vessel, and pass on toward Bideford and Barnstaple.

The spectators leaped to their feet and clamoured, while the young
author of this fury watched the spectacle with exultation, and some
surprise at the magnitude of these mere after-effects of his process.

The meeting was now adjourned to a neighbouring chapel to hear the
report of the research. As the representatives were filing through the
door it was observed that the steam and smoke had cleared, and that
open sea extended where had been Lundy. Within the chapel, the great
Bible was decorously removed and the windows thrown open, to dispel
somewhat the odour of sanctity. For though the early and spiritistic
interpretations of relativity and the quantum theory had by now
accustomed men of science to pay their respects to the religions, many
of them were still liable to a certain asphyxia when they were
actually within the precincts of sanctity. When the scientists had
settled themselves upon the archaic and unyielding benches, the
President explained that the chapel authorities had kindly permitted
this meeting because they realized that, since men of science had
gradually discovered the spiritual foundation of physics, science and
religion must henceforth be close allies. Moreover the purpose of this
meeting was to discuss one of those supreme mysteries which it was the
glory of science to discover and religion to transfigure. The
President then complimented the young dispenser of power upon his
triumph, and called upon him to address the meeting.

At this point, however, the aged representative of France intervened,
and was granted a hearing. Born almost a hundred and forty years
earlier, and preserved more by native intensity of spirit than by the
artifices of the regenerator, this ancient seemed to speak out of a
remote and wiser epoch. For in a declining civilization it is often
the old who see furthest and see with youngest eyes. He concluded a
rather long, rhetorical, yet closely reasoned speech as follows: "No
doubt we are the intelligence of the planet; and because of our
consecration to our calling, no doubt we are comparatively honest. But
alas, even we are human. We make little mistakes now and then, and
commit little indiscretions. The possession of such power as is
offered us would not bring peace. On the contrary it would perpetuate
our national hates. It would throw the world into confusion. It would
undermine our own integrity, and turn us into tyrants. Moreover it
would ruin science. And,--well, when at last through some little error
the world got blown up, the disaster would not be regrettable. I know
that Europe is almost certainly about to be destroyed by those
vigorous but rather spoilt children across the Atlantic. But
distressing as this must be, the alternative is far worse. No, Sir!
Your very wonderful toy would be a gift fit for developed minds; but
for us, who are still barbarians,--no, it must not be. And so, with
deep regret I beg you to destroy your handiwork, and, if it were
possible, your memory of your marvellous research. But above all
breathe no word of your process to us, or to any man."

The German then protested that to refuse would be cowardly. He briefly
described his vision of a world organized under organized science, and
inspired by a scientifically organized religious dogma. "Surely," he
said, "to refuse were to refuse the gift of God, of that God whose
presence in the humblest quantum we have so recently and so
surprisingly revealed." Other speakers followed, for and against; but
it soon grew clear that wisdom would prevail. Men of science were by
now definitely cosmopolitan in sentiment. Indeed so far were they from
nationalism, that on this occasion the representative of America had
urged acceptance of the weapon, although it would be used against his
own countrymen.

Finally, however, and actually by a unanimous vote, the meeting, while
recording its deep respect for the Chinese scientist, requested, nay
ordered, that the instrument and all account of it should be
destroyed.

The young man rose, drew his handiwork from its case, and fingered it.
So long did he remain thus standing in silence with eyes fixed on the
instrument, that the meeting became restless. At last, however, he
spoke. "I shall abide by the decision of the meeting. Well, it is hard
to destroy the fruit of ten years' work, and such fruit, too. I
expected to have the gratitude of mankind; but instead I am an
outcast." Once more he paused. Gazing out of the window, he now drew
from his pocket a field-glass, and studied the western sky. "Yes, they
are American. Gentlemen, the American air fleet approaches."

The company leapt to its feet and crowded to the windows. High in the
west a sparse line of dots stretched indefinitely into the north and
the south. Said the Englishman, "For God's sake use your damned tool
once more, or England's done. They must have smashed our fellows over
the Atlantic."

The Chinese scientist turned his eyes on the President. There was a
general cry of "Stop them." Only the Frenchman protested. The
representative of the United States raised his voice and said, "They
are my people, I have friends up there in the sky. My own boy is
probably there. But they're mad. They want to do something hideous.
They're in the lynching mood. Stop them." The Mongol still gazed at
the President, who nodded. The Frenchman broke down in senile tears.
Then the young man, leaning upon the window sill, took careful aim at
each black dot in turn. One by one, each became a blinding star, then
vanished. In the chapel, a long silence. Then whispers; and glances at
the Chinaman, expressive of anxiety and dislike.

There followed a hurried ceremony in a neighbouring field. A fire was
lit. The instrument and the no less murderous manuscript were burnt.
And then the grave young Mongol, having insisted on shaking hands all
round, said, "With my secret alive in me, I must not live. Some day a
more worthy race will re-discover it, but today I am a danger to the
planet. And so I, who have foolishly ignored that I live among
savages, help myself now by the ancient wisdom to pass hence." So
saying, he fell dead.


3. EUROPE MURDERED


Rumour spread by voice and radio throughout the world. An island had
been mysteriously exploded. The American fleet had been mysteriously
annihilated in the air. And in the neighbourhood where these events
had occurred, distinguished scientists were gathered in conference.
The European Government sought out the unknown saviour of Europe, to
thank him, and secure his process for their own use. The President of
the scientific society gave an account of the meeting and the
unanimous vote. He and his colleagues were promptly arrested, and
"pressure," first moral and then physical, was brought to bear on them
to make them disclose the secret; for the world was convinced that
they really knew it, and were holding it back for their own purposes.

Meanwhile it was learned that the American air commander, after he had
defeated the European fleet, had been instructed merely to
"demonstrate" above England while peace was negotiated. For in
America, big business had threatened the government with boycott if
unnecessary violence were committed in Europe. Big business was by now
very largely international in sentiment, and it was realized that the
destruction of Europe would inevitably unhinge American finance. But
the unprecedented disaster to the victorious fleet roused the
Americans to blind hate, and the peace party was submerged. Thus it
turned out that the Chinaman's one hostile act had not saved England,
but doomed her.

For some days Europeans lived in panic dread, knowing not what horror
might at any moment descend on them. No wonder, then, that the
Government resorted to torture in order to extract the secret from the
scientists. No wonder that out of the forty individuals concerned,
one, the Englishman, saved himself by deceit. He promised to do his
best to "remember" the intricate process. Under strict supervision, he
used his own knowledge of physics to experiment in search of the
Chinaman's trick. Fortunately, however, he was on the wrong scent. And
indeed he knew it. For though his first motive was mere
self-preservation, later he conceived the policy of indefinitely preventing
the dangerous discovery by directing research along a blind alley. And
so his treason, by seeming to give the authority of a most eminent
physicist to a wholly barren line of research, saved this
undisciplined and scarcely human race from destroying its planet.

The American people, sometimes tender even to excess, were now
collectively insane with hate of the English and of all Europeans.
With cold efficiency they flooded Europe with the latest and deadliest
of gasses, till all the peoples were poisoned in their cities like
rats in their holes. The gas employed was such that its potency would
cease within three days. It was therefore possible for an American
sanitary force to take charge of each metropolis within a week after
the attack. Of those who first descended into the great silence of the
murdered cities, many were unhinged by the overwhelming presence of
dead populations. The gas had operated first upon the ground level,
but, rising like a tide, it had engulfed the top stories, the spires,
the hills. Thus, while in the streets lay thousands who had been
overcome by the first wave of poison, every roof and pinnacle bore the
bodies of those who had struggled upwards in the vain hope of escaping
beyond the highest reach of the tide. When the invaders arrived they
beheld on every height prostrate and contorted figures.

Thus Europe died. All centres of intellectual life were blotted out,
and of the agricultural regions only the uplands and mountains were
untouched. The spirit of Europe lived henceforth only in a piece-meal
and dislocated manner in the minds of Americans, Chinese, Indians, and
the rest.

There were indeed the British Colonies, but they were by now far less
European than American. The war had, of course, disintegrated the
British Empire. Canada sided with the United States. South Africa and
India declared their neutrality at the outbreak of war. Australia, not
through cowardice, but through conflict of loyalties, was soon reduced
to neutrality. The New Zealanders took to their mountains and
maintained an insane but heroic resistance for a year. A simple and
gallant folk, they had almost no conception of the European spirit,
yet obscurely and in spite of their Americanization they were loyal to
it, or at least to that symbol of one aspect of Europeanism,
"England." Indeed so extravagantly loyal were they, or so innately
dogged and opinionated, that when further resistance became
impossible, many of them, both men and women, killed themselves rather
than submit.

But the most lasting agony of this war was suffered, not by the
defeated, but by the victors. For when their passion had cooled the
Americans could not easily disguise from themselves that they had
committed murder. They were not at heart a brutal folk, but rather a
kindly. They liked to think of the world as a place of innocent
pleasure-seeking, and of themselves as the main purveyors of delight.
Yet they had been somehow drawn into this fantastic crime; and
henceforth an all-pervading sense of collective guilt warped the
American mind. They had ever been vainglorious and intolerant; but now
these qualities in them became extravagant even to insanity. Both as
individuals and collectively, they became increasingly frightened of
criticism, increasingly prone to blame and hate, increasingly
self-righteous, increasingly hostile to the critical intelligence,
increasingly superstitious.

Thus was this once noble people singled out by the gods to be cursed,
and the minister of curses.



CHAPTER III. AMERICA AND CHINA


1. THE RIVALS


After the eclipse of Europe, the allegiance of men gradually
crystallized into two great national or racial sentiments, the
American and the Chinese. Little by little all other patriotisms
became mere local variants of one or other of these two major
loyalties. At first, indeed, there were many internecine conflicts. A
detailed history of this period would describe how North America,
repeating the welding process of the ancient "American Civil War,"
incorporated within itself the already Americanized Latins of South
America; and how Japan, once the bully of young China, was so crippled
by social revolutions that she fell a prey to American Imperialism;
and how this bondage turned her violently Chinese in sentiment, so
that finally she freed herself by an heroic war of independence, and
joined the Asiatic Confederacy, under Chinese leadership.

A full history would also tell of the vicissitudes of the League of
Nations. Although never a cosmopolitan government, but an association
of national governments, each concerned mainly for its own
sovereignty, this great organization had gradually gained a very real
prestige and authority over all its members. And in spite of its many
short-comings, most of which were involved in its fundamental
constitution, it was invaluable as the great concrete focusing point
of the growing loyalty toward humanity. At first its existence had
been precarious; and indeed it had only preserved itself by an extreme
caution, amounting almost to servility toward the "great powers."
Little by little, however, it had gained moral authority to such an
extent that no single power, even the mightiest, dared openly and in
cold blood either to disobey the will of the League or reject the
findings of the High Court. But, since human loyalty was still in the
main national rather than cosmopolitan, situations were all too
frequent in which a nation would lose its head, run amok, throw its
pledges to the winds, and plunge into fear-inspired aggression. Such a
situation had produced the Anglo-French War. At other times the
nations would burst apart into two great camps, and the League would
be temporarily forgotten in their disunion. This happened in the
Russo-German War, which was possible only because America favoured
Russia, and China favoured Germany. After the destruction of Europe,
the world had for a while consisted of the League on one side and
America on the other. But the League was dominated by China, and no
longer stood for cosmopolitanism. This being so, those whose loyalty
was genuinely human worked hard to bring America once more into the
fold, and at last succeeded.

In spite of the League's failure to prevent the "great" wars, it
worked admirably in preventing all the minor conflicts which had once
been a chronic disease of the race. Latterly, indeed, the world's
peace was absolutely secure, save when the League itself was almost
equally divided. Unfortunately, with the rise of America and China,
this kind of situation became more and more common. During the war of
North and South America an attempt was made to re-create the League as
a Cosmopolitan Sovereignty, controlling the pooled armaments of all
nations. But, though the cosmopolitan will was strong, tribalism was
stronger. The upshot was that, over the Japanese question, the League
definitely split into two Leagues, each claiming to inherit universal
sovereignty from the old League, but each in reality dominated by a
kind of supernational sentiment, the one American, the other Chinese.

This occurred within a century after the eclipse of Europe. The second
century completed the process of crystallization into two systems,
political and mental. On the one hand was the wealthy and close-knit
American Continental Federation, with its poor relations, South
Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the bedridden remains of Western
Europe, and part of the soulless body that was Russia. On the other
hand were Asia and Africa. In fact the ancient distinction between
East and West had now become the basis of political sentiment and
organization.

Within each system there were of course real differences of culture,
of which the chief was the difference between the Chinese and Indian
mentalities. The Chinese were interested in appearances, in the
sensory, the urbane, the practical; while the Indians inclined to seek
behind appearances for some ultimate reality, of which this life, they
said, was but a passing aspect. Thus the average Indian never took to
heart the practical social problem in all its seriousness. The ideal
of perfecting this world was never an all-absorbing interest to him;
since he had been taught to believe that this world was mere shadow.
There was, indeed, a time when China had mentally less in common with
India than with the West, but fear of America had drawn the two great
Eastern peoples together. They agreed at least in earnest hate of that
strange blend of the commercial traveller, the missionary, and the
barbarian conqueror, which was the American abroad.

China, owing to her relative weakness and irritation caused by the
tentacles of American industry within her, was at this time more
nationalistic than her rival, America. Indeed, professed to have
outgrown nationalism, and to stand for political and cultural world
unity. But she conceived this unity as a Unity under American
organization; and by culture she meant Americanism. This kind of
cosmopolitanism was regarded by Asia and Africa without sympathy. In
China a concerted effort had been made to purge the foreign element
from her culture. Its success, however, was only superficial. Pigtails
and chopsticks had once more come into vogue among the leisured, and
the study of Chinese classics was once more compulsory in all schools.
Yet the manner of life of the average man remained American. Not only
did he use American cutlery, shoes, gramophones, domestic labour-saving
devices, but also his alphabet was European, his vocabulary was
permeated by American slang, his newspapers and radio were American in
manner, though anti-American in politics. He saw daily in his domestic
television screen every phase of American private life and every
American public event. Instead of opium and joss sticks, he affected
cigarettes and chewing gum.

His thought also was largely a Mongolian variant of American thought.
For instance, since his was a non-metaphysical mind, but since also
some kind of metaphysics is unavoidable, he accepted the na´vely
materialistic metaphysics which had been popularized by the earliest
Behaviourists. In this view the only reality was physical energy, and
the mind was but the system of the body's movements in response to
stimulus. Behaviourism had formerly played a great part in purging the
best Western minds of superstition; and indeed at one time it was the
chief growing point of thought.

This early, pregnant, though extravagant, doctrine it was that had
been absorbed by China. But in its native land Behaviorism had
gradually been infected by the popular demand for comfortable ideas,
and had finally changed into a curious kind of spiritism, according to
which, though the ultimate reality was indeed physical energy, this
energy was identified with the divine spirit. The most dramatic
feature of American thought in this period was the merging of
Behaviorism and Fundamentalism, a belated and degenerate mode of
Christianity. Behaviourism itself, indeed, had been originally a kind
of inverted Puritan faith, according to which intellectual salvation
involved acceptance of a crude materialistic dogma, chiefly because it
was repugnant to the self-righteous, and unintelligible to
intellectuals of the earlier schools. The older Puritans trampled down
all fleshy impulses; these newer Puritans trampled no less
self-righteously upon the spiritual cravings. But in the increasingly
spiritistic inclination of physics itself, Behaviorism and
Fundamentalism had found a meeting place. Since the ultimate stuff of
the physical universe was now said to be multitudinous and arbitrary
"quanta" of the activity of "spirits," how easy was it for the
materialistic and the spiritistic to agree! At heart, indeed, they
were never far apart in mood, though opposed in doctrine. The real
cleavage was between the truly spiritual view on the one hand, and the
spiritistic and materialistic on the other. Thus the most
materialistic of Christian sects and the most doctrinaire of
scientific sects were not long in finding a formula to express their
unity, their denial of all those finer capacities which had emerged to
be the spirit of man.

These two faiths were at one in their respect for crude physical
movement. And here lay the deepest difference between the American and
the Chinese minds. For the former, activity, any sort of activity, was
an end in itself; for the latter, activity was but a progress toward
the true end, which was rest, and peace of mind. Action was to be
undertaken only when equilibrium was disturbed. And in this respect
China was at one with India. Both preferred contemplation to action.

Thus in China and India the passion for wealth was less potent than in
America. Wealth was the power to set things and people in motion; and
in America, therefore, wealth came to be frankly regarded as the
breath of God, the divine spirit immanent in man. God was the supreme
Boss, the universal Employer. His wisdom was conceived as a stupendous
efficiency, his love as munificence towards his employees. The parable
of the talents was made the corner-stone of education; and to be
wealthy, therefore, was to be respected as one of God's chief agents.
The typical American man of big business was one who, in the midst of
a show of luxury, was at heart ascetic. He valued his splendour only
because it advertised to all men that he was of the elect. The typical
Chinese wealthy man was one who savoured his luxury with a delicate
and lingering palate, and was seldom tempted to sacrifice it to the
barren lust of power.

On the other hand, since American culture was wholly concerned with
the values of the individual life, it was more sensitive than the
Chinese with regard to the well-being of humble individuals. Therefore
industrial conditions were far better under American than under
Chinese capitalism. And in China both kinds of capitalism existed side
by side. There were American factories in which the Chinese operatives
thrived on the American system, and there were Chinese factories in
which the operatives were by comparison abject wage-slaves. The fact
that many Chinese industrial workers could not afford to keep a
motor-car, let alone an aeroplane, was a source of much self-righteous
indignation amongst American employers. And the fact that this fact
did not cause a revolution in China, and that Chinese employers were
able to procure plenty of labour in spite of the better conditions in
American factories, was a source of perplexity. But in truth what the
average Chinese worker wanted was not symbolical self-assertion
through the control of privately owned machines, but security of life,
and irresponsible leisure. In the earlier phase of "modern" China
there had indeed been serious explosions of class hatred. Almost every
one of the great Chinese industrial centres had, at some point in its
career, massacred its employers, and declared itself an independent
communist city-state. But communism was alien to China, and none of
these experiments was permanently successful. Latterly, when the rule
of the Nationalist Party had become secure, and the worst industrial
evils had been abolished, class feeling had given place to a patriotic
loathing of American interference and American hustle, and those who
worked under American employers were often called traitors.

The Nationalist Party was not, indeed, the soul of China; but it was,
so to speak, the central nervous system, within which the soul
presided as a controlling principle. The Party was an intensely
practical yet idealistic organization, half civil service, half
religious order, though violently opposed to every kind of religion.
Modelled originally on the Bolshevic Party of Russia, it had also
drawn inspiration from the native and literary civil service of old
China, and even from the tradition of administrative integrity which
had been the best, the sole, contribution of British Imperialism to
the East. Thus, by a route of its own, the Party had approached the
ideal of the Platonic governors. In order to be admitted to the Party,
it was necessary to do two things, to pass a very strict written
examination on Western and Chinese social theory, and to come through
a five years' apprenticeship in actual administrative work. Outside
the Party, China was still extremely corrupt; for peculation and
nepotism were not censured, so long as they were kept decently hidden.
But the Party set a brilliant example of self-oblivious devotion; and
this unheard-of honesty was one source of its power. It was
universally recognized that the Party man was genuinely interested in
social rather than private matters; and consequently he was trusted.
The supreme object of his loyalty was not the Party, but China, not
indeed the mass of Chinese individuals, whom he regarded with almost
the same nonchalance as he regarded himself, but the corporate unity
and culture of the race.

The whole executive power in China was now in the hands of members of
the Party, and the final legislative authority was the Assembly of
Party Delegates. Between these two institutions stood the President.
Sometimes no more than chairman of the Executive Committee, this
individual was now and then almost a dictator, combining in himself
the attributes of Prime Minister, Emperor, and Pope. For the head of
the Party was the head of the state; and like the ancient emperors, he
became the symbolical object of ancestor worship.

The Party's policy was dominated by the Chinese respect for culture.
Just as Western states had been all too often organized under the will
for military prestige, so the new China was organized under the will
for prestige of culture. For this end the American state was reviled
as the supreme example of barbarian vulgarity; and so patriotism was
drawn in to strengthen the cultural policy of the Party. It was
boasted that, while indeed in America every man and woman might hope
to fight a way to material wealth, in China every intelligent person
could actually enjoy the cultural wealth of the race. The economic
policy of the Party was based on the principle of affording to all
workers security of livelihood and full educational opportunity. (In
American eyes, however, the livelihood thus secured was scarcely fit
for beasts, and the education provided was out of date and
irreligious.) The Party took good care to gather into itself all the
best of every social class, and also to encourage in the unintelligent
masses a respect for learning, and the illusion that they themselves
shared to some extent in the national culture.

But in truth this culture, which the common people so venerated in
their superiors and mimicked in their own lives, was scarcely less
superficial than the cult of power against which it was pitted. For it
was almost wholly a cult of social rectitude and textual learning; not
so much of the merely literary learning which had obsessed ancient
China, as of the vast corpus of contemporary scientific dogma, and
above all of pure mathematics. In old days the candidate for office
had to show minute but uncritical knowledge of classical writers; now
he had to give proof of a no less barren agility in describing the
established formula of physics, biology, psychology, and more
particularly of economics and social theory. And though never
encouraged to puzzle over the philosophical basis of mathematics, he
was expected to be familiar with the intricacy of at least one branch
of that vast game of skill. So great was the mass of information
forced upon the student, that he had no time to think of the mutual
implications of the various branches of his knowledge.

Yet there was a soul in China. And in this elusive soul of China the
one hope of the First Men now lay. Scattered throughout the Party was
a minority of original minds, who were its source of inspiration and
the growing point of the human spirit in this period. Well aware of
man's littleness, these thinkers regarded him none the less as the
crown of the universe. On the basis of a positivistic and rather
perfunctory metaphysic, they built a social ideal and a theory of art.
Indeed, in the practice and appreciation of art they saw man's highest
achievement. Pessimistic about the remote future of the race, and
contemptuous of American evangelism, they accepted as the end of
living the creation of an intricately unified pattern of human lives
set in a fair environment. Society, the supreme work of art (so they
put it), is a delicate and perishable texture of human intercourse.
They even entertained the possibility that in the last resort, not
only the individual's life, but the whole career of the race, might be
tragic, and to be valued according to the standards of tragic art.
Contrasting their own spirit with that of the Americans, one of them
had said, "America, a backward youth in a playroom equipped with
luxury and electric power, pretends that his mechanical toy moves the
world. China, a gentleman walking in his garden in the evening,
admires the fragrance and the order all the more because in the air is
the first nip of winter, and in his ear rumour of the irresistible
barbarian."

In this attitude there was something admirable, and sorely needed at
the time; but also there was a fatal deficiency. In its best exponents
it rose to a detached yet fervent salutation of existence, but all too
easily degenerated into a supine complacency, and a cult of social
etiquette. In fact it was ever in danger of corruption through the
inveterate Chinese habit of caring only for appearances. In some
respects the spirit of America and the spirit of China were
complementary, since the one was restless and the other bland, the one
zealous and the other dispassionate, the one religious, the other
artistic, the one superficially mystical or at least romantic, the
other classical and rationalistic, though too easy-going for prolonged
rigorous thought. Had they co-operated, these two mentalities might
have achieved much. On the other hand, in both there was an identical
and all-important lack. Neither of them was disturbed and enlightened
by that insatiable lust for the truth, that passion for the free
exercise of critical intelligence, the gruelling hunt for reality,
which had been the glory of Europe and even of the earlier America,
but now was no longer anywhere among the First Men. And, consequent on
this lack, another disability crippled them. Both were by now without
that irreverent wit which individuals of an earlier generation had
loved to exercise upon one another and on themselves, and even on
their most sacred values.

In spite of this weakness, with good luck they might have triumphed.
But, as I shall tell, the spirit of America undermined the integrity
of China, and thereby destroyed its one chance of salvation. There
befell, in fact, one of those disasters, half inevitable and half
accidental, which periodically descended on the First Men, as though
by the express will of some divinity who cared more for the excellence
of his dramatic creation than for the sentient puppets which he had
conceived for its enacting.


2. THE CONFLICT


After the Euro-American War there occurred first a century of minor
national conflicts, and then a century of strained peace, during which
America and China became more and more irksome to each other. At the
close of this period the great mass of men were in theory far more
cosmopolitan than nationalist, yet the inveterate tribal spirit lurked
within each mind, and was ever ready to take possession. The planet
was now a delicately organized economic unit, and big business in all
lands was emphatically contemptuous of patriotism. Indeed the whole
adult generation of the period was consciously and without reserve
internationalist and pacifist. Yet this logically unassailable
conviction was undermined by a biological craving for adventurous
living. Prolonged peace and improved social conditions had greatly
reduced the danger and hardship of life, and there was no socially
harmless substitute to take the place of war in exercising the
primitive courage and anger of animals fashioned for the wild.
Consciously men desired peace, unconsciously they still needed some
such gallantry as war afforded. And this repressed combative
disposition ever and again expressed itself in explosions of
irrational tribalism.

Inevitably a serious conflict at last occurred. As usual the cause was
both economic and sentimental. The economic cause was the demand for
fuel. A century earlier a very serious oil famine had so sobered the
race that the League of Nations had been able to impose a system of
cosmopolitan control upon the existing oil fields, and even the coal
fields. It had also imposed strict regulations as to the use of these
invaluable materials. Oil in particular was only to be used for
enterprises in which no other source of power would serve. The
cosmopolitan control of fuel was perhaps the supreme achievement of
the League, and it remained a fixed policy of the race long after the
League had been superseded. Yet, by a choice irony of fate, this quite
unusually sane policy contributed largely to the downfall of
civilization. By means of it, as will later transpire, the end of coal
was postponed into the period when the intelligence of the race was so
deteriorated that it could no longer cope with such a crisis. Instead
of adjusting itself to the novel situation, it simply collapsed.

But at the time with which we are at present dealing, means had
recently been found of profitably working the huge deposits of fuel in
Antarctica. This vast supply unfortunately lay technically beyond the
jurisdiction of the World Fuel Control Board. America was first in the
field, and saw in Antarctic fuel a means for her advancement, and for
her self-imposed duty of Americanizing the planet. China, fearful of
Americanization, demanded that the new sources should be brought under
the jurisdiction of the Board. For some years feeling had become
increasingly violent on this point, and both peoples had by now
relapsed into the crude old nationalistic mood. War began to seem
almost inevitable.

The actual occasion of conflict, however, was, as usual, an accident.
A scandal was brought to light about child labour in certain Indian
factories. Boys and girls under twelve were being badly sweated, and
in their abject state their only adventure was precocious sex. The
American Government protested, and in terms which assumed that America
was the guardian of the world's morals. India immediately held up the
reform which she had begun to impose, and replied to America as to a
busy-body. America threatened an expedition to set things right,
"backed by the approval of all the morally sensitive races of the
earth." China now intervened to keep the peace between her rival and
her partner, and undertook to see that the evil should be abolished,
if America would withdraw her extravagant slanders against the Eastern
conscience. But it was too late. An American bank in China was raided,
and its manager's severed head was kicked along the street. The tribes
of men had once more smelled blood. War was declared by the West upon
the East.

Of the combatants, Asia, with North Africa, formed geographically the
more compact system, but America and her dependents were economically
more organized. At the outbreak of war neither side had any
appreciable armament, for war had long ago been "outlawed." This fact,
however, made little difference; since the warfare of the period could
be carried on with great effect simply by the vast swarms of civil
air-craft, loaded with poison, high explosives, disease microbes, and
the still more lethal "hypobiological" organisms, which contemporary
science sometimes regarded as the simplest living matter, sometimes as
the most complex molecules.

The struggle began with violence, slackened, and dragged on for a
quarter of a century. At the close of this period, Africa was mostly
in the hands of America. But Egypt was an uninhabitable no-man's land,
for the South Africans had very successfully poisoned the sources of
the Nile. Europe was under Chinese military rule. This was enforced by
armies of sturdy Central-Asiatics, who were already beginning to
wonder why they did not make themselves masters of China also. The
Chinese language, with European alphabet, was taught in all schools.
In England, however, there were no schools, and no population; for
early in the war, an American air-base had been established in
Ireland, and England had been repeatedly devastated. Airmen passing
over what had been London, could still make out the lines of Oxford
Street and the Strand among the green and grey tangle of ruins. Wild
nature, once so jealously preserved in national "beauty spots" against
the incursion of urban civilization, now rioted over the whole island.
At the other side of the world, the Japanese islands had been
similarly devastated in the vain American effort to establish there an
air-base from which to reach the heart of the enemy. So far, however,
neither China nor America had been very seriously damaged; but
recently the American biologists had devised a new malignant germ,
more infectious and irresistible than anything hitherto known. Its
work was to disintegrate the highest levels of the nervous system, and
therefore to render all who were even slightly affected incapable of
intelligent action; while a severe attack caused paralysis and finally
death. With this weapon the American military had already turned one
Chinese city into a bedlam; and wandering bacilli had got into the
brains of several high officials throughout the province, rendering
their behaviour incoherent. It was becoming the fashion to attribute
all one's blunders to a touch of the new microbe. Hitherto no
effective means of resisting the spread of this plague had been
discovered. And as in the early stages of the disease the patient
became restlessly active, undertaking interminable and objectless
journeys on the flimsiest pretexts, it seemed probable that the
"American madness" would spread throughout China.

On the whole, then, the military advantage lay definitely with the
Americans; but economically they were perhaps the more damaged, for
their higher standard of prosperity depended largely on foreign
investment and foreign trade. Throughout the American continent there
was now real poverty and serious symptoms of class war, not indeed
between private workers and employers, but between workers and the
autocratic military governing caste which inevitably war had created.
Big business had at first succumbed to the patriotic fever, but had
soon remembered that war is folly and ruinous to trade. Indeed upon
both sides the fervour of nationalism had lasted only a couple of
years, after which the lust of adventure had given place to mere dread
of the enemy. For on each side the populace had been nursed into the
belief that its foe was diabolic. When a quarter of a century had
passed since there had been free intercourse between the two peoples,
the real mental difference which had always existed between them
appeared to many almost as a difference of biological species. Thus in
America the Church preached that no Chinaman had a soul. Satan, it was
said, had tampered with the evolution of the Chinese race when first
it had emerged from the pre-human animal. He had contrived that it
should be cunning, but wholly without tenderness. He had induced in it
an insatiable sensuality, and wilful blindness toward the divine,
toward that superbly masterful energy-for-energy's-sake which was the
glory of America. Just as in a prehistoric era the young race of
mammals had swept away the sluggish, brutish and demoded reptiles, so
now, it was said, young soulful America was destined to rid the planet
of the reptilian Mongol. In China, on the other hand, the official
view was that the Americans were a typical case of biological
retrogression. Like all parasitic organisms, they had thriven by
specializing in one low-grade mode of behaviour at the expense of
their higher nature; and now, "tape-worms of the planet," they were
starving out the higher capacities of the human race by their frantic
acquisitiveness.

Such were the official doctrines. But the strain of war had latterly
produced on each side a grave distrust of its own government, and an
emphatic will for peace at any price. The governments hated the peace
party even more than each other, since their existence now depended on
war. They even went so far as to inform one another of the clandestine
operations of the pacifists, discovered by their own secret service in
enemy territory.

Thus when at last big business and the workers on each side of the
Pacific had determined to stop the war by concerted action, it was
very difficult for their representatives to meet.


3. ON AN ISLAND IN THE PACIFIC


Save for the governments, the whole human race now earnestly desired
peace; but opinion in America was balanced between the will merely to
effect an economic and political unification of the world, and a
fanatical craving to impose American culture on the East. In China
also there was a balance of the purely commercial readiness to
sacrifice ideals for the sake of peace and prosperity, and the will to
preserve Chinese culture. The two individuals who were to meet in
secret for the negotiation of peace were typical of their respective
races; in both of them the commercial and cultural motives were
present, though the commercial was by now most often dominant.

It was in the twenty-sixth year of the war that two seaplanes
converged by night from the East and West upon an island in the
Pacific, and settled on a secluded inlet. The moon, destined in
another age to smother this whole equatorial region with her shattered
body, now merely besparkled the waves. From each plane a traveller
emerged, and rowed himself ashore in a rubber coracle. The two men met
upon the beach, and shook hands, the one with ceremony, the other with
a slightly forced brotherliness. Already the sun peered over the wall
of the sea, shouting his brilliance and his heat. The Chinese, taking
off his air-helmet, uncoiled his pigtail with a certain emphasis,
stripped off his heavy coverings, and revealed a sky-blue silk pyjama
suit, embroidered with golden dragons. The other, glancing with
scarcely veiled dislike at this finery, flung off his wraps and
displayed the decent grey coat and breeches with which the American
business men of this period unconsciously symbolized their reversion
to Puritanism. Smoking the Chinese envoy's cigarettes, the two sat
down to re-arrange the planet.

The conversation was amicable, and proceeded without hitch; for there
was agreement about the practical measures to be adopted. The
government in each country was to be overthrown at once. Both
representatives were confident that this could be done if it could be
attempted simultaneously on each side of the Pacific; for in both
countries finance and the people could be trusted. In place of the
national governments, a World Finance Directorate was to be created.
This was to be composed of the leading commercial and industrial
magnates of the world, along with representatives of the workers'
organizations. The American representative should be the first
president of the Directorate, and the Chinese the first
vice-president. The Directorate was to manage the whole economic
re-organization of the world. In particular, industrial conditions in the
East were to be brought into line with those of America, while on the
other hand the American monopoly of Antarctica was to be abolished.
That rich and almost virgin land was to be subjected to the control of
the Directorate.

Occasionally during the conversation reference was made to the great
cultural difference between the East and West; but both the negotiants
seemed anxious to believe that this was only a minor matter which need
not be allowed to trouble a business discussion.

At this point occurred one of those incidents which, minute in
themselves, have disproportionately great effects. The unstable nature
of the First Men made them peculiarly liable to suffer from such
accidents, and especially so in their decline.

The talk was interrupted by the appearance of a human figure swimming
round a promontory into the little bay. In the shallows she arose, and
walked out of the water towards the creators of the World State. A
bronze young smiling woman, completely nude, with breasts heaving
after her long swim, she stood before them, hesitating. The relation
between the two men was instantly changed, though neither was at first
aware of it.

"Delicious daughter of Ocean," said the Chinese, in that somewhat
archaic and deliberately un-American English which the Asiatics now
affected in communication with foreigners, "what is there that these
two despicable land animals can do for you? For my friend, I cannot
answer, but I at least am henceforth your slave." His eyes roamed
carelessly, yet as it were with perfect politeness, all over her body.
And she, with that added grace which haloes women when they feel the
kiss of an admiring gaze, pressed the sea from her hair and stood at
the point of speech.

But the American protested, "Whoever you are, please do not interrupt
us. We are really very busy discussing a matter of great importance,
and we have no time to spare. Please go. Your nudity is offensive to
one accustomed to civilized manners. In a modern country you would not
be allowed to bathe without a costume. We are growing very sensitive
on this point."

A distressful but enhancing blush spread under the wet bronze, and the
intruder made as if to go. But the Chinese cried, "Stay! We have
almost finished our business talk. Refresh us with your presence.
Bring the realities back into our discussion by permitting us to
contemplate for a while the perfect vase line of your waist and thigh.
Who are you? Of what race are you? My anthropological studies fail to
place you. Your skin is fairer than is native here, though rich with
sun. Your breasts are Grecian. Your lips are chiselled with a memory
of Egypt. Your hair, night though it was, is drying with a most
bewildering hint of gold. And your eyes, let me observe them. Long,
subtle, as my countrywomen's, unfathomable as the mind of India, they
yet reveal themselves to your new slave as not wholly black, but
violet as the zenith before dawn. Indeed this exquisite unity of
incompatibles conquers both my heart and my understanding."

During this harangue her composure was restored, though she glanced
now and then at the American, who kept ever removing his gaze from
her.

She answered in much the same diction as the other; but, surprisingly,
with an old-time English accent, "I am certainly a mongrel. You might
call me, not daughter of Ocean, but daughter of Man; for wanderers of
every race have scattered their seed on this island. My body, I know,
betrays its diverse ancestry in a rather queer blend of characters. My
mind is perhaps unusual too, for I have never left this island. And
though it is actually less than a quarter of a century since I was
born, a past century has perhaps had more meaning for me than the
obscure events of today. A hermit taught me. Two hundred years ago he
lived actively in Europe; but towards the end of his long life he
retreated to this island. As an old man he loved me. And day by day he
gave me insight into the great spirit of the past; but of this age he
gave me nothing. Now that he is dead, I struggle to familiarize myself
with the present, but I continue to see everything from the angle of
another age. And so," (turning to the American) "if I have offended
against modern customs, it is because my insular mind has never been
taught to regard nakedness as indecent. I am very ignorant, truly a
savage. If only I could gain experience of your great world! If ever
this war ends, I must travel."

"Delectable," said the Chinese, "exquisitely proportioned, exquisitely
civilized savage! Come with me for a holiday in modern China. There
you can bathe without a costume, so long as you are beautiful."

She ignored this invitation, and seemed to have fallen into a reverie.
Then absently she continued, "Perhaps I should not suffer from this
restlessness, this craving to experience the world, if only I were to
experience motherhood instead. Many of the islanders from time to time
have enriched me with their embraces. But with none of them could I
permit myself to conceive. They are dear; but not one of them is at
heart more than a child."

The American became restless. But again the Mongol intervened, with
lowered and deepened voice. "I," he said, "I, the Vice-President of
the World Finance Directorate, shall be honoured to afford you the
opportunity of motherhood."

She regarded him gravely, then smiled as on a child who asks more than
it is reasonable to give. But the American rose hastily. Addressing
the silken Mongol, he said, "You probably know that the American
Government is in the act of sending a second poison fleet to turn your
whole population insane, more insane than you are already. You cannot
defend yourselves against this new weapon; and if I am to save you, I
must not trifle any longer. Nor must you, for we must act
simultaneously. We have settled all that matters for the moment. But
before I leave, I must say that your behaviour toward this woman has
very forcibly reminded me that there is something wrong with the
Chinese way of thought and life. In my anxiety for peace, I overlooked
my duty in this respect. I now give you notice that when the
Directorate is established, we Americans must induce you to reform
these abuses, for the world's sake and your own."

The Chinese rose and answered, "This matter must be settled locally.
We do not expect you to accept our standards, so do not you expect us
to accept yours." He moved toward the woman, smiling. And the smile
outraged the American.

We need not follow the wrangle which now ensued between the two
representatives, each of whom, though in a manner cosmopolitan in
sentiment, was heartily contemptuous of the other's values. Suffice it
that the American became increasingly earnest and dictatorial, the
other increasingly careless and ironical. Finally the American raised
his voice and presented an ultimatum. "Our treaty of world-union," he
said, "will remain unsigned unless you add a clause promising drastic
reforms, which, as a matter of fact, my colleagues had already
proposed as a condition of co-operation. I had decided to withhold
them, in case they should wreck our treaty; but now I see they are
essential. You must educate your people out of their lascivious and
idle ways, and give them modern scientific religion. Teachers in your
schools and universities must pledge themselves to the modern
fundamentalized physics and behaviourism, and must enforce worship of
the Divine Mover. The change will be difficult, but we will help you.
You will need a strong order of Inquisitors, responsible to the
Directorate. They will see also to the reform of your people's sexual
frivolity in which you squander so much of the Divine Energy. Unless
you agree to this, I cannot stop the war. The law of God must be kept,
and those who know it must enforce it."

The woman interrupted him. "Tell me, what is this 'God' of yours? The
Europeans worshipped love, not energy. What do you mean by energy? Is
it merely to make engines go fast, and to agitate the ether?"

He answered flatly, as if repeating a lesson, "God is the
all-pervading spirit of movement which seeks to actualize itself wherever
it is latent. God has appointed the great American people to mechanize
the universe." He paused, contemplating the clean lines of his
sea-plane. Then he continued with emphasis, "But come! Time is precious.
Either you work for God, or we trample you out of God's way."

The woman approached him, saying, "There is certainly something great
in this enthusiasm. But somehow, though my heart says you are right,
my head is doubting still. There must be a mistake somewhere."

"Mistake!" he laughed, overhanging her with his mask of power. "When a
man's soul is action, how can he be mistaken that action is divine? I
have served the great God, Energy, all my life, from garage boy to
World President. Has not the whole American people proved its faith by
its success?"

With rapture, but still in perplexity, she gazed at him. "There's
something terribly wrong-headed about you Americans," she said, "but
certainly you are great." She looked him in the eyes. Then suddenly
she laid a hand on him, and said with conviction, "Being what you are,
you are probably right. Anyhow you are a man, a real man. Take me. Be
the father of my boy. Take me to the dangerous cities of America to
work with you."

The President was surprised with sudden hunger for her body, and she
saw it; but he turned to the Vice-President and said, "She has seen
where the truth lies. And you? War, or co-operation in God's work?"

"The death of our bodies, or the death of our minds," said the
Chinese, but with a bitterness that lacked conviction; for he was no
fanatic. "Well, since the soul is only the harmoniousness of the
body's behaviour, and since, in spite of this little dispute, we are
agreed that the co-ordination of activity is the chief need of the
planet today, and since in respect of our differences of temperament
this lady has judged in favour of America, and moreover since, if
there is any virtue in our Asiatic way of life, it will not succumb to
a little propaganda, but rather will be strengthened by opposition--
since all these matters are so, I accept your terms. But it would be
undignified in China to let this great change be imposed upon her
externally. You must give me time to form in Asia a native and
spontaneous party of Energists, who will themselves propagate your
gospel, and perhaps give it an elegance which, if I may say so, it has
not yet. Even this we will do to secure the cosmopolitan control of
Antarctica."

Thereupon the treaty was signed; but a new and secret codicil was
drawn up and signed also, and both were witnessed by the Daughter of
Man, in a clear, round, old-fashioned script.

Then, taking a hand of each, she said, "And so at last the world is
united. For how long, I wonder. I seem to hear my old master's voice
scolding, as though I had been rather stupid. But he failed me, and I
have chosen a new master, Master of the World."

She released the hand of the Asiatic, and made as if to draw the
American away with her. And he, though he was a strict monogamist with
a better half waiting for him in New York, longed to crush her
sun-clad body to his Puritan cloth. She drew him away among the palm
trees.

The Vice-President of the World sat down once more, lit a cigarette,
and meditated, smiling.



CHAPTER IV. AN AMERICANIZED PLANET


1. THE FOUNDATION OF THE FIRST WORLD STATE


We have now reached that point in the history of the First Men when,
some three hundred and eighty terrestrial years after the European
War, the goal of world unity was at last achieved--not, however,
before the mind of the race had been seriously crippled.

There is no need to recount in detail the transition from rival
national sovereignties to unitary control by the World Financial
Directorate. Suffice it that by concerted action in America and China
the military governments found themselves hamstrung by the passive
resistance of cosmopolitan big business. In China this process was
almost instantaneous and bloodless; in America there was serious
disorder for a few weeks, while the bewildered government attempted to
reduce its rebels by martial law. But the population was by now eager
for peace; and, although a few business magnates were shot, and a
crowd of workers here and there mown down, the opposition was
irresistible. Very soon the governing clique collapsed.

The new order consisted of a vast system akin to guild socialism, yet
at bottom individualistic. Each industry was in theory democratically
governed by all its members, but in practice was controlled by its
dominant individuals. Co-ordination of all industries was effected by
a World Industrial Council, whereon the leaders of each industry
discussed the affairs of the planet as a whole. The status of each
industry on the Council was determined partly by its economic power in
the world, partly by public esteem. For already the activities of men
were beginning to be regarded as either "noble" or "ignoble;" and the
noble were not necessarily the most powerful economically. Thus upon
the Council appeared an inner ring of noble "industries," which were,
in approximate order of prestige, Finance, Flying, Engineering,
Surface Locomotion, Chemical Industry, and Professional Athletics. But
the real seat of power was not the Council, not even the inner ring of
the Council, but the Financial Directorate. This consisted of a dozen
millionaires, with the American President and the Chinese
Vice-President at their head.

Within this august committee internal dissensions were inevitable.
Shortly after the system had been inaugurated the Vice-President
sought to overthrow the President by publishing his connection with a
Polynesian woman who now styled herself the Daughter of Man. This
piece of scandal was expected to enrage the virtuous American public
against their hero. But by a stroke of genius the President saved both
himself and the unity of the world. Far from denying the charge, he
gloried in it. In that moment of sexual triumph, he said, a great
truth had been revealed to him. Without this daring sacrifice of his
private purity, he would never have been really fit to be President of
the World; he would have remained simply an American. In this lady's
veins flowed the blood of all races, and in her mind all cultures
mingled. His union with her, confirmed by many subsequent visits, had
taught him to enter into the spirit of the East, and had given him a
broad human sympathy such as his high office demanded. As a private
individual, he insisted, he remained a monogamist with a wife in New
York; and, as a private individual, he had sinned, and must suffer for
ever the pangs of conscience. But as President of the World, it was
incumbent upon him to espouse the World. And since nothing could be
said to be real without a physical basis, this spiritual union had to
be embodied and symbolized by his physical union with the Daughter of
Man. In tones of grave emotion he described through the microphone
how, in the presence of that mystical woman, he had suddenly triumphed
over his private moral scruples; and how, in a sudden access of the
divine energy, he had consummated his marriage with the World in the
shade of a banana tree.

The lovely form of the Daughter of Man (decently clad) was transmitted
by television to every receiver in the world. Her face, blended of
Asia and the West, became a most potent symbol of human unity. Every
man on the planet became in imagination her lover. Every woman
identified herself with this supreme woman.

Undoubtedly there was some truth in the plea that the Daughter of Man
had enlarged the President's mind, for his policy had been
unexpectedly tactful toward the East. Often he had moderated the
American demand for the immediate Americanization of China. Often he
had persuaded the Chinese to welcome some policy which at first they
had regarded with suspicion.

The President's explanation of his conduct enhanced his prestige both
in America and Asia. America was hypnotized by the romantic
religiosity of the story. Very soon it became fashionable to be a
strict monogamist with one domestic wife, and one "symbolical" wife in
the East, or in another town, or a neighbouring street, or with
several such in various localities. In China the cold tolerance with
which the President was first treated was warmed by this incident into
something like affection. And it was partly through his tact, or the
influence of his symbolical wife, that the speeding up of China's
Americanization was effected without disorder.

For some months after the foundation of the World State, China had
been wholly occupied in coping with the plague of insanity, called
"the American madness," with which her former enemy had poisoned her.
The coast region of North China had been completely disorganized.
Industry, agriculture, transport, were at a standstill. Huge mobs,
demented and starving, staggered about the country devouring every
kind of vegetable matter and wrangling over the flesh of their own
dead. It was long before the disease was brought under control; and
indeed for years afterwards an occasional outbreak would occur, and
cause panic throughout the land.

To some of the more old-fashioned Chinese it appeared as though the
whole population had been mildly affected by the germ; for throughout
China a new sect, apparently a spontaneous native growth, calling
themselves Energists, began to preach a new interpretation of Buddhism
in terms of the sanctity of action. And, strange to say, this gospel
throve to such an extent that in a few years the whole educational
system was captured by its adherents, though not without a struggle
with the reactionary members of the older universities. Curiously
enough, however, in spite of this general acceptance of the New Way,
in spite of the fact that the young of China were now taught to admire
movement in all its forms, in spite of a much increased wage-scale,
which put all workers in possession of private mechanical locomotion,
the masses of China continued at heart to regard action as a mere
means toward rest. And when at last a native physicist pointed out
that the supreme expression of energy was the tense balance of forces
within the atom, the Chinese applied the doctrine to themselves, and
claimed that in them quiescence was the perfect balance of mighty
forces. Thus did the East contribute to the religion of this age. The
worship of activity was made to include the worship of inactivity. And
both were founded on the principles of natural science.


2. THE DOMINANCE OF SCIENCE


Science now held a position of unique honour among the First Men. This
was not so much because it was in this field that the race long ago
during its high noon had thought most rigorously, nor because it was
through science that men had gained some insight into the nature of
the physical world, but rather because the application of scientific
principles had revolutionized their material circumstances. The once
fluid doctrines of science had by now begun to crystallize into a
fixed and intricate dogma; but inventive scientific intelligence still
exercised itself brilliantly in improving the technique of industry,
and thus completely dominated the imagination of a race in which the
pure intellectual curiosity had waned. The scientist was regarded as
an embodiment, not merely of knowledge, but of power; and no legends
of the potency of science seemed too fantastic to be believed.

A century after the founding of the first World State a rumour began
to be heard in China about the supreme secret of scientific religion,
the awful mystery of Gordelpus, by means of which it should be
possible to utilize the energy locked up in the opposition of proton
and electron. Long ago discovered by a Chinese physicist and saint,
this invaluable knowledge was now reputed to have been preserved ever
since among the _elite_ of science, and to be ready for publication as
soon as the world seemed fit to possess it. The new sect of Energists
claimed that the young Discoverer was himself an incarnation of
Buddha, and that, since the world was still unfit for the supreme
revelation, he had entrusted his secret to the Scientists. On the side
of Christianity a very similar legend was concerned with the same
individual. The Regenerate Christian Brotherhood, by now
overwhelmingly the most powerful of the Western Churches, regarded the
Discoverer as the Son of God, who, in this his Second Coming, had
proposed to bring about the millennium by publishing the secret of
divine power; but, finding the peoples still unable to put in practice
even the more primitive gospel of love which was announced at his
First Coming, he had suffered martyrdom for man's sake, and had
entrusted his secret to the Scientists.

The scientific workers of the world had long ago organized themselves
as a close corporation. Entrance to the International College of
Science was to be obtained only by examination and the payment of high
fees. Membership conferred the title of "Scientist," and the right to
perform experiments. It was also an essential qualification for many
lucrative posts. Moreover, there were said to be certain technical
secrets which members were pledged not to reveal. Rumour had it that
in at least one case of minor blabbing the traitor had shortly
afterwards mysteriously died.

Science itself, the actual corpus of natural knowledge, had by now
become so complex that only a tiny fraction of it could be mastered by
one brain. Thus students of one branch of science knew practically
nothing of the work of others in kindred branches. Especially was this
the case with the huge science called Subatomic Physics. Within this
were contained a dozen studies, any one of which was as complex as the
whole of the physics of the Nineteenth Christian Century. This growing
complexity had rendered students in one field ever more reluctant to
criticize, or even to try to understand, the principles of other
fields. Each petty department, jealous of its own preserves, was
meticulously respectful of the preserves of others. In an earlier
period the sciences had been co-ordinated and criticized
philosophically by their own leaders and by the technical
philosophers. But, philosophy, as a rigorous technical discipline, no
longer existed. There was, of course, a vague framework of ideas, or
assumptions, based on science, and common to all men, a popular
pseudo-science, constructed by the journalists from striking phrases
current among scientists. But actual scientific workers prided
themselves on the rejection of this ramshackle structure, even while
they themselves were unwittingly assuming it. And each insisted that
his own special subject must inevitably remain unintelligible even to
most of his brother scientists.

Under these circumstances, when rumour declared that the mystery of
Gordelpus was known to the physicists, each department of subatomic
physics was both reluctant to deny the charge explicitly in its own
case, and ready to believe that some other department really did
possess the secret. Consequently the conduct of the scientists as a
body strengthened the general belief that they knew and would not
tell.

About two centuries after the formation of the first World State, the
President of the World declared that the time was ripe for a formal
union of science and religion, and called a conference of the leaders
of these two great disciplines. Upon that island in the Pacific which
had become the Mecca of cosmopolitan sentiment, and was by now one
vast many-storied, and cloud-capped Temple of Peace, the heads of
Buddhism, Mohammedanism, Hinduism, the Regenerate Christian
Brotherhood and the Modern Catholic Church in South America, agreed
that their differences were but differences of expression. One and all
were worshippers of the Divine Energy, whether expressed in activity,
or in tense stillness. One and all recognized the saintly Discoverer
as either the last and greatest of the prophets or an actual
incarnation of divine Movement, And these two concepts were easily
shown, in the light of modern science, to be identical.

In an earlier age it had been the custom to single out heresy and
extirpate it with fire and sword. But now the craving for uniformity
was fulfilled by explaining away differences, amid universal applause.

When the Conference had registered the unity of the religions, it went
on to establish the unity of religion and science. All knew, said the
President, that some of the scientists were in possession of the
supreme secret, though, wisely, they would not definitely admit it. It
was time, then, that the organizations of Science and Religion should
be merged, for the better guidance of men. He, therefore, called upon
the International College of Science to nominate from amongst
themselves a select body, which should be sanctified by the Church,
and called the Sacred Order of Scientists. These custodians of the
supreme secret were to be kept at public expense. They were to devote
themselves wholly to the service of science, and in particular to
research into the most scientific manner of worshipping the Divine
Gordelpus.

Of the scientists present, some few looked distinctly uncomfortable,
but the majority scarcely concealed their delight under dignified and
thoughtful hesitation. Amongst the priests also two expressions were
visible; but on the whole it was felt that the Church must gain by
thus gathering into herself the unique prestige of science. And so it
was that the Order was founded which was destined to become the
dominant force in human affairs until the downfall of the first world
civilization.


3. MATERIAL ACHIEVEMENT


Save for occasional minor local conflicts, easily quelled by the World
Police, the race was now a single social unit for some four thousand
years. During the first of these millennia material progress at least
was rapid, but subsequently there was little change until the final
disintegration. The whole energy of man was concentrated on
maintaining at a constant pitch the furious routine of his
civilization, until, after another three thousand years of lavish
expenditure, certain essential sources of power were suddenly
exhausted. Nowhere was there the mental agility to cope with this
novel crisis. The whole social order collapsed.

We may pass over the earlier stages of this fantastic civilization,
and examine it as it stood just before the fatal change began to be
felt.

The material circumstances of the race at this time would have amazed
all its predecessors, even those who were in the true sense far more
civilized beings. But to us, the Last Men, there is an extreme pathos
and even comicality, not only in this most thorough confusion of
material development with civilization, but also in the actual paucity
of the vaunted material development itself, compared with that of our
own society.

All the continents, indeed, were by now minutely artificialized. Save
for the many wild reserves which were cherished as museums and
playgrounds, not a square mile of territory was left in a natural
state. Nor was there any longer a distinction between agricultural and
industrial areas. All the continents were urbanized, not of course in
the manner of the congested industrial cities of an earlier age, but
none the less urbanized. Industry and agriculture interpenetrated
everywhere. This was possible partly through the great development of
aerial communication, partly through a no less remarkable improvement
of architecture. Great advances in artificial materials had enabled
the erection of buildings in the form of slender pylons which, rising
often to a height of three miles, or even more, and founded a quarter
of a mile beneath the ground, might yet occupy a ground plan of less
than half a mile across. In section these structures were often
cruciform; and on each floor, the centre of the long-armed cross
consisted of an aerial landing, providing direct access from the air
for the dwarf private aeroplanes which were by now essential to the
life of every adult. These gigantic pillars of architecture, prophetic
of the still mightier structures of an age to come, were scattered
over every continent in varying density. Very rarely were they
permitted to approach one another by a distance less than their
height; on the other hand, save in the arctic, they were very seldom
separated by more than twenty miles. The general appearance of every
country was thus rather like an open forest of lopped tree-trunks,
gigantic in stature. Clouds often encircled the middle heights of
these artificial peaks, or blotted out all but the lower stories.
Dwellers in the summits were familiar with the spectacle of a dazzling
ocean of cloud, dotted on all sides with steep islands of
architecture. Such was the altitude of the upper floors that it was
sometimes necessary to maintain in them, not merely artificial
heating, but artificial air pressure and oxygen supply.

Between these columns of habitation and industry, the land was
everywhere green or brown with the seasonal variations of agriculture,
park, and wild reserve. Broad grey thoroughfares for heavy freight
traffic netted every continent; but lighter transport and the
passenger services were wholly aerial. Over all the more populous
districts the air was ever aswarm with planes up to a height of five
miles, where the giant air-liners plied between the continents.

The enterprise of an already distant past had brought every land under
civilization. The Sahara was a lake district, crowded with sun-proud
holiday resorts. The arctic islands of Canada, ingeniously warmed by
directed tropical currents, were the homes of vigorous northerners.
The coasts of Antarctica, thawed in the same manner, were permanently
inhabited by those engaged in exploiting the mineral wealth of the
hinterland.

Much of the power needed to keep this civilization in being was drawn
from the buried remains of prehistoric vegetation, in the form of
coal. Although after the foundation of the World State the fuel of
Antarctica had been very carefully husbanded, the new supply of oil
had given out in less than three centuries, and men were forced to
drive their aeroplanes by electricity generated from coal. It soon
became evident, however, that even the unexpectedly rich coal-fields
of Antarctica would not last for ever. The cessation of oil had taught
men a much needed lesson, had made them feel the reality of the power
problem. At the same time the cosmopolitan spirit, which was learning
to regard the whole race as compatriots, was also beginning to take a
broader view temporally, and to see things with the eyes of remote
generations. During the first and sanest thousand years of the World
State, there was a widespread determination not to incur the blame of
the future by wasting power. Thus not only was there serious economy
(the first large-scale cosmopolitan enterprise), but also efforts were
made to utilize more permanent sources of power. Wind was used
extensively. On every building swarms of windmills generated
electricity, and every mountain range was similarly decorated, while
every considerable fall of water forced its way through turbines. More
important still was the utilization of power derived from volcanos and
from borings into the subterranean heat. This, it had been hoped,
would solve the whole problem of power, once and for all. But even in
the earlier and more intelligent period of the World State inventive
genius was not what it had been, and no really satisfactory method was
found. Consequently at no stage of this civilization did volcanic
sources do more than supplement the amazingly rich coal seams of
Antarctica. In this region coal was preserved at far greater depths
than elsewhere, because, by some accident, the earth's central heat
was not here fierce enough (as it was elsewhere) to turn the deeper
beds into graphite. Another possible source of power was known to
exist in the ocean tides; but the use of this was forbidden by the
S.O.S. because, since tidal motion was so obviously astronomical in
origin, it had come to be regarded as sacred.

Perhaps the greatest physical achievement of the First World State in
its earlier and more vital phase had been in preventive medicine.
Though the biological sciences had long ago become stereotyped in
respect of fundamental theories, they continued to produce many
practical benefits. No longer did men and women have to dread for
themselves or those dear to them such afflictions as cancer,
tuberculosis, angina pectoris, the rheumatic diseases, and the
terrible disorders of the nervous system. No longer were there sudden
microbic devastations. No longer was childbirth an ordeal, and
womanhood itself a source of suffering. There were no more chronic
invalids, no more life-long cripples. Only senility remained; and even
this could be repeatedly alleviated by physiological rejuvenation. The
removal of all these ancient sources of weakness and misery, which
formerly had lamed the race and haunted so many individuals either
with definite terrors or vague and scarcely conscious despond, brought
about now a pervading buoyancy and optimism impossible to earlier
peoples.


4. THE CULTURE OF THE FIRST WORLD STATE


Such was the physical achievement of this civilization. Nothing half
so artificial and intricate and prosperous had ever before existed. An
earlier age, indeed, had held before itself some such ideal as this;
but its nationalistic mania prevented it from attaining the necessary
economic unity. This latter-day civilization, however, had wholly
outgrown nationalism, and had spent many centuries of peace in
consolidating itself. But to what end? The terrors of destitution and
ill-health having been abolished, man's spirit was freed from a
crippling burden, and might have dared great adventures. But
unfortunately his intelligence had by now seriously declined. And so
this age, far more than the notorious "nineteenth century," was the
great age of barren complacency.

Every individual was a well-fed and physically healthy human animal.
He was also economically independent. His working day was never more
than six hours, often only four. He enjoyed a fair share of the
products of industry; and in his long holidays he was free to wander
in his own aeroplane all over the planet. With good luck he might find
himself rich, even for those days, at forty; and if fortune had not
favoured him, he might yet expect affluence before he was eighty, when
he could still look forward to a century of active life.

But in spite of this material prosperity he was a slave. His work and
his leisure consisted of feverish activity, punctuated by moments of
listless idleness which he regarded as both sinful and unpleasant.
Unless he was one of the furiously successful minority, he was apt to
be haunted by moments of brooding, too formless to be called
meditation, and of yearning, too blind to be called desire. For he and
all his contemporaries were ruled by certain ideas which prevented
them from living a fully human life.

Of these ideas one was the ideal of progress. For the individual, the
goal imposed by his religious teaching was continuous advancement in
aeronautical prowess, legal sexual freedom, and millionaireship. For
the race also the ideal was progress, and progress of the same
unintelligent type. Ever more brilliant and extensive aviation, ever
more extensive legal sexual intercourse, ever more gigantic
manufacture, and consumption, were to be co-ordinated in an ever more
intricately organized social system. For the last three thousand
years, indeed, progress even of this rude kind had been minute; but
this was a source of pride rather than of regret. It implied that the
goal was already almost attained, the perfection which should justify
the release of the secret of divine power, and the inauguration of an
era of incomparably mightier activity.

For the all-pervading idea which tyrannized over the race was the
fanatical worship of movement. Gordelpus, the Prime Mover, demanded of
his human embodiments swift and intricate activity, and the
individual's prospect of eternal life depended on the fulfillment of
this obligation. Curiously, though science had long ago destroyed the
belief in personal immortality as an intrinsic attribute of man, a
complementary belief had grown up to the effect that those who
justified themselves in action were preserved eternally, by special
miracle, in the swift spirit of Gordelpus. Thus from childhood to
death the individual's conduct was determined by the obligation to
produce as much motion as possible, whether by his own muscular
activity or by the control of natural forces. In the hierarchy of
industry three occupations were honoured almost as much as the Sacred
Order of Scientists, namely, flying, dancing, and athletics. Every one
practised all three of these crafts to some extent, for they were
imposed by religion; but the professional fliers and aeronautical
engineers, and the professional dancers and athletes, were a
privileged class.

Several causes had raised flying to a position of unique honour. As a
means of communication it was of extreme practical importance; and as
the swiftest locomotion it constituted the supreme act of worship. The
accident that the form of the aeroplane was reminiscent of the main
symbol of the ancient Christian religion lent flying an additional
mystical significance. For though the spirit of Christianity was lost,
many of its symbols had been preserved in the new faith. A more
important source of the dominance of flying was that, since warfare
had long ceased to exist, aviation of a gratuitously dangerous kind
was the main outlet for the innate adventurousness of the human
animal. Young men and women risked their lives fervently for the glory
of Gordelpus and their own salvation, while their seniors took
vicarious satisfaction in this endless festival of youthful prowess.
Indeed apart from the thrills of devotional aerial acrobats, it is
unlikely that the race would so long have preserved its peace and its
unity. On each of the frequent Days of Sacred Flight special rituals
of communal and solo aviation were performed at every religious
centre. On these occasions the whole sky would be intricately
patterned with thousands of planes, wheeling, tumbling, soaring,
plunging, in perfect order and at various altitudes, the dance at one
level being subtly complementary to the dance at others. It was as
though the spontaneous evolutions of many distinct flocks of redshank
and dunlin were multiplied a thousand-fold in complexity, and
subordinated to a single ever-developing terpsichorean theme. Then
suddenly the whole would burst asunder to the horizon, leaving the sky
open for the quartets, duets and solos of the most brilliant stars of
flight. At night also, regiments of planes bearing coloured lights
would inscribe on the zenith ever-changing and symbolical patterns of
fire. Besides these aerial dances, there had existed for eight hundred
years a custom of spelling out periodically in a dense flight of
planes six thousand miles long the sacred rubrics of the gospel of
Gordelpus, so that the living word might be visible to other plants.

In the life of every individual, flying played a great part.
Immediately after birth he was taken up by a priestess of flight and
dropped, clinging to a parachute, to be deftly caught upon the wings
of his father's plane. This ritual served as a substitute for
contraception (forbidden as an interference with the divine energy);
for since in many infants the old simian grasping-instinct was
atrophied, a large proportion of the new-born let go and were smashed
upon the paternal wings. At adolescence the individual (male or
female) took charge of a plane for the first time, and his life was
subsequently punctuated by severe aeronautical tests. From middle age
onwards, namely as a centenarian, when he could no longer hope to rise
in the hierarchy of active flight, he continued to fly daily for
practical purposes.

The two other forms of ritual activity, dancing and athletics, were
scarcely less important. Nor were they confined wholly to the ground.
For certain rites were celebrated by dances upon the wings of a plane
in mid air.

Dancing was especially associated with the Negro race, which occupied
a very peculiar position in the world at this time. As a matter of
fact the great colour distinctions of mankind were now beginning to
fade. Increased aerial communication had caused the black, brown,
yellow and white stocks so to mingle that everywhere there was by now
a large majority of the racially indistinguishable. Nowhere was there
any great number of persons of marked racial character. But each of
the ancient types was liable to crop up now and again in isolated
individuals, especially in its ancient homeland. These "throw-backs"
were customarily treated in special and historically appropriate
manners. Thus, for instance, it was to "sports" of definite Negro
character that the most sacred dancing was entrusted.

In the days of the nations, the descendants of emancipated African
slaves in North America had greatly influenced the artistic and
religious life of the white population, and had inspired a cult of
negroid dancing which survived till the end of the First Men. This was
partly due to the sexual and primitive character of Negro dancing,
sorely needed in a nation ridden by sexual taboos. But it had also a
deeper source. The American nation had acquired its slaves by capture,
and had long continued to spurn their descendants. Later it
unconsciously compensated for its guilt by a cult of the Negro spirit.
Thus when American culture dominated the planet, the pure Negroes
became a sacred caste. Forbidden many of the rights of citizenship,
they were regarded as the private servants of Gordelpus. They were
both sacred and outcast. This dual role was epitomized in an
extravagant ritual which took place once a year in each of the great
national parks. A white woman and a Negro, both chosen for their
prowess in dance, performed a long and symbolical ballet, which
culminated in a ritual act of sexual violation, performed in full view
of the maddened spectators. This over, the Negro knifed his victim,
and fled through the forest pursued by an exultant mob. If he reached
sanctuary, he became a peculiarly sacred object for the rest of his
life. But if he was caught, he was torn to pieces or drenched with
inflammable spirit and burned. Such was the superstition of the First
Men at this time that the participants in this ceremony were seldom
reluctant; for it was firmly believed that both were assured of
eternal life in Gordelpus. In America this Sacred Lynching was the
most popular of all festivals; for it was both sexual and bloody, and
afforded a fierce joy to the masses whose sex-life was restricted and
secret. In India and Africa the violator was always an "Englishman,"
when such a rare creature could be found. In China the whole character
of the ceremony was altered; for the violation became a kiss, and the
murder a touch with a fan.

One other race, the Jews, were treated with a similar combination of
honour and contempt, but for very different reasons. In ancient days
their general intelligence, and in particular their financial talent,
had co-operated with their homelessness to make them outcasts; and
now, in the decline of the First Men, they retained the fiction, if
not strictly the fact, of racial integrity. They were still outcasts,
though indispensable and powerful. Almost the only kind of intelligent
activity which the First Men could still respect was financial
operation, whether private or cosmopolitan. The Jews had made
themselves invaluable in the financial organization of the world
state, having far outstripped the other races because they alone had
preserved a furtive respect for pure intelligence. And so, long after
intelligence had come to be regarded as disreputable in ordinary men
and women, it was expected of the Jews. In them it was called satanic
cunning, and they were held to be embodiments of the powers of evil,
harnessed in the service of Gordelpus. Thus in time the Jews had made
something like "a corner" in intelligence. This precious commodity
they used largely for their own purposes; for two thousand years of
persecution had long ago rendered them permanently tribalistic,
subconsciously if not consciously. Thus when they had gained control
of the few remaining operations which demanded originality rather than
routine, they used this advantage chiefly to strengthen their own
position in the world. For, though relatively bright, they had
suffered much of the general coarsening and limitation which had beset
the whole world. Though capable to some extent of criticizing the
practical means by which ends should be realized, they were by now
wholly incapable of criticizing the major ends which had dominated
their race for thousands of years. In them intelligence had become
utterly subservient to tribalism. There was thus some excuse for the
universal hate and even physical repulsion with which they were
regarded; for they alone had failed to make the one great advance,
from tribalism to a cosmopolitanism which in other races was no longer
merely theoretical. There was good reason also for the respect which
they received, since they retained and used somewhat ruthlessly a
certain degree of the most distinctively human attribute,
intelligence.

In primitive times the intelligence and sanity of the race had been
preserved by the inability of its unwholesome members to survive. When
humanitarianism came into vogue, and the unsound were tended at public
expense, this natural selection ceased. And since these unfortunates
were incapable alike of prudence and of social responsibility, they
procreated without restraint, and threatened to infect the whole
species with their rottenness. During the zenith of Western
Civilization, therefore, the subnormal were sterilized. But the
latter-day worshippers of Gordelpus regarded both sterilization and
contraception as a wicked interference with the divine potency.
Consequently the only restriction on population was the suspension of
the new-born from aeroplanes, a process which, though it eliminated
weaklings, favoured among healthy infants rather the primitive than
the highly developed. Thus the intelligence of the race steadily
declined. And no one regretted it.

The general revulsion from intelligence was a corollary of the
adoration of instinct, and this in turn was an aspect of the worship
of activity. Since the unconscious source of human vigour was the
divine energy, spontaneous impulse must so far as possible never be
thwarted. Reasoning was indeed permitted to the individual within the
sphere of his official work, but never beyond. And not even
specialists might indulge in reasoning and experiment without
obtaining a licence for the particular research. The licence was
expensive, and was only granted if the goal in view could be shown to
be an increase of world activity. In old times certain persons of
morbid curiosity had dared to criticize the time-honoured methods of
doing things, and had suggested "better" methods not convenient to the
Sacred Order of Scientists. This had to be stopped. By the fourth
millennium of the World State the operations of civilization had
become so intricately stereotyped that novel situations of a major
order never occurred.

One kind of intellectual pursuit in addition to finance was, indeed.
honoured, namely mathematical calculation. All ritual movements, all
the motions of industrial machinery, all observable natural phenomena,
had to be minutely described in mathematical formulae. The records
were filed in the sacred archives of the S.O.S. And there they
remained. The vast enterprise of mathematical description was the main
work of the scientists, and was said to be the only means by which the
evanescent thing, movement, could be passed into the eternal being of
Gordelpus.

The cult of instinct did not result simply in a life of ungoverned
impulse. Far from it. For the fundamental instinct, it was said, was
the instinct to worship Gordelpus in action, and this should rule all
the other instincts. Of these, the most important and sacred was the
sexual impulse, which the First Men had ever tended to regard as both
divine and obscene. Sex, therefore, was now very strictly controlled.
Reference to sexuality, save by circumlocution, was forbidden by law.
Persons who remarked on the obvious sexual significance of the
religious dances, were severely punished. No sexual activity and no
sex knowledge were permitted to the individual until he had won his
(or her) wings. Much information, of a distorted and perverted nature
could, indeed, be gained meanwhile by observation of the religious
writings and practices; but officially these sacred matters were all
given a metaphysical, not a sexual interpretation. And though legal
maturity, the Wing-Winning, might occur as early as the age of
fifteen, sometimes it was not attained till forty. If at that age the
individual still failed in the test, he or she was forbidden sexual
intercourse and information for ever.

In China and India this extravagant sexual taboo was somewhat
mitigated. Many easy-going persons had come to feel that the imparting
of sex knowledge to the "immature" was only wrong when the medium of
communication was the sacred American language. They therefore made
use of the local patois. Similarly, sexual activity of the "immature"
was permissible so long as it was performed solely in the wild
reserves, and without American speech. These subterfuges, however,
were condemned by the orthodox, even in Asia.

When a man had won his wings, he was formally initiated into the
mystery of sex and all its "biologico-religious" significance. He was
also allowed to take a "domestic wife." and after a much more severe
aviation test, any number of "symbolical" wives. Similarly with the
woman. These two kinds of partnership differed greatly. The "domestic"
husband and wife appeared in public together, and their union was
indissoluble. The "symbolic" union, on the other hand, could be
dissolved by either party. Also it was too sacred ever to be revealed,
or even mentioned, in public.

A very large number of persons never passed the test which sanctioned
sexuality. These either remained virgin, or indulged in sexual
relations which were not only illegal but sacrilegious. The
successful, on the other hand, were apt to consummate sexually every
casual acquaintance.

Under these circumstances it was natural that there should exist among
the sexually submerged part of the population certain secret cults
which sought escape from harsh reality into worlds of fantasy. Of
these illicit sects, two were most widespread. One was a perversion of
the ancient Christian faith in a God of Love. All love, it was said,
is sexual; therefore in worship, private or public, the individual
must seek a direct sexual relation with God. Hence arose a grossly
phallic cult, very contemptible to those more fortunate persons who
had no need of it.

The other great heresy was derived partly from the energy of repressed
intellective impulses, and was practised by persons of natural
curiosity who, nevertheless, shared the universal paucity of
intelligence. These pathetic devotees of intellect were inspired by
Socrates. That great primitive had insisted that clear thought is
impossible without clear definition of terms, and that without clear
thinking man misses fullness of being. These his last disciples were
scarcely less fervent admirers of truth than their master, yet they
missed his spirit completely. Only by knowing the truth, they said,
can the individual attain immortality; only by defining can he know
the truth. Therefore, meeting together in secret, and in constant
danger of arrest for illicit intellection, they disputed endlessly
about the definition of things. But the things which they were
concerned to define were not the basic concepts of human thought; for
these, they affirmed, had been settled once for all by Socrates and
his immediate followers. Therefore, accepting these as true, and
grossly misunderstanding them, the ultimate Socratics undertook to
define all the processes of the world state and the ritual of the
established religion, all the emotions of men and women, all the
shapes of noses, mouths, buildings, mountains, clouds, and in fact the
whole superficies of their world. Thus they believe that they
emancipated themselves from the philistinism of their age, and secured
comradeship with Socrates in the hereafter.


5. DOWNFALL


The collapse of this first world-civilization was due to the sudden
failure of the supplies of coal. All the original fields had been
sapped centuries earlier, and it should have been obvious that those
more recently discovered could not last for ever. For some thousands
of years the main supply had come from Antarctica. So prolific was
this continent that latterly a superstition had arisen in the clouded
minds of the world-citizens that it was in some mysterious manner
inexhaustible. Thus when at last, in spite of strict censorship, the
news began to leak out that even the deepest possible borings had
failed to reveal further vegetable deposits of any kind, the world was
at first incredulous.

The sane policy would have been to abolish the huge expense of power
on ritual flying, which used more of the community's resources than
the whole of productive industry. But to believers in Gordelpus such a
course was almost unthinkable. Moreover it would have undermined the
flying aristocracy. This powerful class now declared that the time had
come for the release of the secret of divine power, and called on the
S.O.S. to inaugurate the new era. Vociferous agitation in all lands
put the scientists in an awkward plight. They gained time by declaring
that, though the moment of revelation was approaching, it had not yet
arrived; for they had received a divine intimation that this failure
of coal was imposed as a supreme test of man's faith. The service of
Gordelpus in ritual flight must be rather increased than reduced.
Spending a bare minimum of its power on secular matters, the race must
concentrate upon religion. When Gordelpus had evidence of their
devotion and trust, he would permit the scientists to save them.

Such was the prestige of science that at first this explanation was
universally accepted. The ritual flights were maintained. All luxury
trades were abolished, and even vital services were reduced to a
minimum. Workers thus thrown out of employment were turned over to
agricultural labour; for it was felt that the use of mechanical power
in mere tillage must be as soon as possible abolished. These changes
demanded far more organizing ability than was left in the race.
Confusion was widespread, save here and there where serious
organization was attempted by certain Jews.

The first result of this great movement of economy and self-denial was
to cause something of a spiritual awakening among many who had
formerly lived a life of bored ease. This was augmented by the
widespread sense of crisis and impending marvels. Religion, which, in
spite of its universal authority in this age, had become a matter of
ritual rather than of inward experience, began to stir in many
hearts,--not indeed as a movement of true worship, but rather as a
vague awe, not unmixed with self-importance.

But as the novelty of this enthusiasm dwindled, and life became
increasingly uncomfortable, even the most zealous began to notice with
horror that in moments of inactivity they were prone to doubts too
shocking to confess. And as the situation worsened, even a life of
ceaseless action could not suppress these wicked fantasies.

For the race was now entering upon an unprecedented psychological
crisis, brought about by the impact of the economic disaster upon a
permanently unwholesome mentality. Each individual, it must be
remembered, had once been a questioning child, but had been taught to
shun curiosity as the breath of Satan. Consequently the whole race was
suffering from a kind of inverted repression, a repression of the
intellective impulses. The sudden economic change, which affected all
classes throughout the planet, thrust into the focus of attention a
shocking curiosity, an obsessive scepticism, which had hitherto been
buried in the deepest recesses of the mind.

It is not easy to conceive the strange mental disorder that now
afflicted the whole race, symbolizing itself in some cases by fits of
actual physical vertigo. After centuries of prosperity, of routine, of
orthodoxy, men were suddenly possessed by a doubt which they regarded
as diabolical. No one said a word of it; but in each man's own mind
the fiend raised a whispering head, and each was haunted by the
troubled eyes of his fellows. Indeed the whole changed circumstances
of his life jibed at his credulity.

Earlier in the career of the race, this world crisis might have served
to wake men into sanity. Under the first pressure of distress they
might have abandoned the extravagances of their culture. But by now
the ancient way of life was too deeply rooted. Consequently, we
observe the fantastic spectacle of a world engaged, devotedly and even
heroically, on squandering its resources in vast aeronautical
displays, not through single-minded faith in their rightness and
efficacy, but solely in a kind of desperate automatism. Like those
little rodents whose migration became barred by an encroachment of the
sea, so that annually they drowned themselves in thousands, the First
Men helplessly continued in their ritualistic behaviour; but unlike
the lemmings, they were human enough to be at the same time oppressed
by unbelief, an unbelief which, moreover, they dared not recognize.

Meanwhile the scientists were earnestly and secretly delving in the
ancient literature of their science, in hope of discovering the
forgotten talisman. They undertook also clandestine experiments, but
upon a false trail laid by the wily English contemporary of the
Discoverer. The main results were, that several researchers were
poisoned or electrocuted, and a great college was blown up. This event
impressed the populace, who supposed the accident to be due to an
overdaring exercise of the divine potency. The misunderstanding
inspired the desperate scientists to rig further impressive
"miracles," and moreover to use them to dispel the increasing
restlessness of hungry industrial workers. Thus when a deputation
arrived outside the offices of Cosmopolitan Agriculture to demand more
flour for industrialists, Gordelpus miraculously blew up the ground on
which they stood, and flung their bodies among the onlookers. When the
agriculturists of China struck to obtain a reasonable allowance of
electric power for their tillage, Gordelpus affected them with an evil
atmosphere, so that they choked and died in thousands. Stimulated in
this manner by direct divine intervention, the doubting and disloyal
elements of the world population recovered their faith and their
docility. And so the world jogged on for a while, as nearly as
possible as it had done for the last four thousand years, save for a
general increase of hunger and ill-health.

But inevitably, as the conditions of life became more and more severe.
docility gave place to desperation. Daring spirits began publicly to
question the wisdom, and even the piety, of so vast an expenditure of
power upon ritual flight, when prime necessities such as food and
clothing were becoming so scarce. Did not this helpless devotion
merely ridicule them in the divine eyes? God helps him who helps
himself. Already the death rate had risen alarmingly. Emaciated and
ragged persons were beginning to beg in public places. In certain
districts whole populations were starving, and the Directorate did
nothing for them. Yet, elsewhere, harvests were being wasted for lack
of power to reap them. In all lands an angry clamour arose for the
inauguration of the new era.

The scientists were by now panic-stricken. Nothing had come of their
researches, and it was evident that in future all wind and water-power
must be devoted to the primary industries. Even so, there was
starvation ahead for many. The President of the Physical Society
suggested to the Directorate that ritual flying should at once be
reduced by half as a compromise with Gordelpus. Immediately the
hideous truth, which few hitherto had dared to admit even to
themselves, was blurted out upon the ether by a prominent Jew: the
whole hoary legend of the divine secret was a lie, else why were the
physicists temporizing? Dismay and rage spread over the planet.
Everywhere the people rose against the scientists, amid against the
governing authority which they controlled. Massacres and measures of
retaliation soon developed into civil wars. China and India declared
themselves free national states, but could not achieve internal unity.
In America, ever a stronghold of science and religion, the Government
maintained its authority for a while; but as its seat became less
secure, its methods became more ruthless. Finally it made the mistake
of using not merely poison gas, but microbes; and such was the decayed
state of medical science that no one could invent a means of
restraining their ravages. The whole American continent succumbed to a
plague of pulmonary and nervous diseases. The ancient "American
Madness," which long ago had been used against China, now devastated
America. The great stations of waterpower and windpower were wrecked
by lunatic mobs who sought vengeance upon anything associated with
authority. Whole populations vanished in an orgy of cannibalism.

In Asia and Africa, some semblance of order was maintained for a
while. Presently, however, the American Madness spread to these
continents also, and very soon all living traces of their civilization
vanished.

Only in the most natural fertile areas of the world could the diseased
remnant of a population now scrape a living from the soil. Elsewhere,
utter desolation. With easy strides the jungle came back into its own.



CHAPTER V. THE FALL OF THE FIRST MEN


I. THE FIRST DARK AGE


We have reached a period in man's history rather less than five
thousand years after the life of Newton. In this chapter we must cover
about one hundred and fifteen thousand years, and in the next chapter
another ten million years. That will bring us to a point as remotely
future from the First World State as the earliest anthropoids were
remotely past. During the first tenth of the first million years after
the fall of the World State, during a hundred thousand years, man
remained in complete eclipse. Not till the close of this span, which
we will call the First Dark Age, did he struggle once more from
savagery through barbarism into civilization and then his renaissance
was relatively brief. From its earliest beginnings to its end, it
covered only fifteen thousand years; and in its final agony the planet
was so seriously damaged that mind lay henceforth in deep slumber for
ten more millions of years. This was the Second Dark Age. Such is the
field which we must observe in this and the following chapter.

It might have been expected that, after the downfall of the First
World State, recovery would have occurred within a few generations.
Historians have, indeed, often puzzled over the cause of this
surprisingly complete and lasting degradation. Innate human nature was
roughly the same immediately after as immediately before the crisis;
yet minds that had easily maintained a world-civilization in being,
proved quite incapable of building a new order on the ruins of the
old. Far from recovering, man's estate rapidly deteriorated till it
had sunk into abject savagery.

Many causes contributed to this result, some relatively superficial
and temporary, some profound and lasting. It is as though Fate,
directing events toward an allotted end, had availed herself of many
diverse instruments, none of which would have sufficed alone, though
all worked together irresistibly in the same sense. The immediate
cause of the helplessness of the race during the actual crisis of the
World State was of course the vast epidemic of insanity and still more
widespread deterioration of intelligence, which resulted from the use
of microbes. This momentary seizure made it impossible for man to
check his downfall during its earliest and least unmanageable stage.
Later, when the epidemic was spent, even though civilization was
already in ruins, a concerted effort of devotion might yet have
rebuilt it on a more modest plan. But among the First Men only a
minority had ever been capable of wholehearted devotion. The great
majority were by nature too much obsessed by private impulses. And in
this black period, such was the depth of disillusion and fatigue, that
even normal resolution was impossible. Not only man's social structure
but the structure of the universe itself, it seemed, had failed. The
only reaction was supine despair. Four thousand years of routine had
deprived human nature of all its suppleness. To expect these things to
refashion their whole behaviour, were scarcely less unreasonable than
to expect ants, when their nest was flooded, to assume the habits of
water beetles.

But a far more profound and lasting cause doomed the First Men to lie
prone for a long while, once they had fallen. A subtle physiological
change, which it is tempting to call "general senescence of the
species," was undermining the human body and mind. The chemical
equilibrium of each individual was becoming more unstable, so that,
little by little, man's unique gift of prolonged youth was being lost.
Far more rapidly than of old, his tissues failed to compensate for the
wear and tear of living. This disaster was by no means inevitable; but
it was brought on by influences peculiar to the make-up of the
species, and aggravated artificially. For during some thousands of
years man had been living at too high a pressure in a biologically
unnatural environment, and had found no means of compensating his
nature for the strain thus put upon it.

Conceive, then, that after the fall of the First World State, the
generations slid rapidly through dusk into night. To inhabit those
centuries was to live in the conviction of universal decay, and under
the legend of a mighty past. The population was derived almost wholly
from the agriculturists of the old order, and since agriculture had
been considered a sluggish and base occupation, fit only for sluggish
natures, the planet was now peopled with yokels. Deprived of power,
machinery, and chemical fertilizers, these bumpkins were hard put to
it to keep themselves alive. And indeed only a tenth of their number
survived the great disaster. The second generation knew civilization
only as a legend. Their days were filled with ceaseless tillage, and
in banding together to fight marauders. Women became once more sexual
and domestic chattels. The family, or tribe of families, became the
largest social whole. Endless brawls and feuds sprang up between
valley and valley, and between the tillers and the brigand swarms.
Small military tyrants rose and fell; but no permanent unity of
control could be maintained over a wide region. There was no surplus
wealth to spend on such luxuries as governments and trained armies.

Thus without appreciable change the millennia dragged on in squalid
drudgery. For these latter-day barbarians were hampered by living in a
used planet. Not only were coal and oil no more, but almost no mineral
wealth of any kind remained within reach of their feeble instruments
and wits. In particular the minor metals, needed for so many of the
multifarious activities of developed material civilization, had long
ago disappeared from the more accessible depths of the earth's crust.
Tillage moreover was hampered by the fact that iron itself, which was
no longer to be had without mechanical mining, was now inaccessible.
Men had been forced to resort once more to stone implements, as their
first human ancestors had done. But they lacked both the skill and the
persistence of the ancients. Not for them the delicate flaking of the
Paleoliths nor the smooth symmetry of the Neoliths. Their tools were
but broken pebbles, chipped improvements upon natural stones. On
almost every one they engraved the same pathetic symbol, the Swastika
or cross, which had been used by the First Men as a sacred emblem
throughout their existence, though with varying significance. In this
instance it had originally been the figure of an aeroplane diving to
destruction, and had been used by the rebels to symbolize the downfall
of Gordelpus and the State. But subsequent generations reinterpreted
the emblem as the sign manual of a divine ancestor, and as a memento
of the golden age from which they were destined to decline for ever,
or until the gods should intervene. Almost one might say that in its
persistent use of this symbol the first human species unwittingly
epitomized its own dual and self-thwarting nature.

The idea of irresistible decay obsessed the race at this time. The
generation which brought about the downfall of the World State
oppressed its juniors with stories of past amenities and marvels, and
hugged to itself the knowledge that the young men had not the wit to
rebuild such complexity. Generation by generation, as the circumstance
of actual life became more squalid, the legend of past glory became
more extravagant. The whole mass of scientific knowledge was rapidly
lost, save for a few shreds which were of practical service even in
savage life. Fragments of the old culture were indeed preserved in the
tangle of folk-lore that meshed the globe, but they were distorted
beyond recognition. Thus there was a widespread belief that the world
had begun as fire, and that life had evolved out of the fire. After
the apes had appeared, evolution ceased (so it was said), until divine
spirits came down and possessed the female apes, thereby generating
human beings. Thus had arisen the golden age of the divine ancestors.
But unfortunately after a while the beast in man had triumphed over
the god, so that progress had given place to age-long decay. And
indeed decay was now unavoidable, until such time as the gods should
see fit to come down to cohabit with women and fire the race once
more. This faith in the second coming of the gods persisted here and
there throughout the First Dark Age, and consoled men for their vague
conviction of degeneracy.

Even at the close of the First Dark Age, the ruins of the ancient
residential pylons still characterized every landscape, often with an
effect of senile domination over the hovels of latter-day savages. For
the living races dwelt beneath these relics like puny grandchildren
playing around the feet of their fathers' once mightier fathers. So
well had the past built, and with such durable material, that even
after a hundred millennia the ruins were still recognizably artifacts.
Though for the most part they were of course by now little more than
pyramids of debris overgrown with grass and brushwood, most of them
retained some stretch of standing wall, and here and there a favoured
specimen still reared from its rubble-encumbered base a hundred foot
or so of cliff, punctured with windows. Fantastic legends now
clustered round these relics. In one myth the men of old had made for
themselves huge palaces which could fly. For a thousand years (an aeon
to these savages) men had dwelt in unity, and in reverence of the
gods; but at last they had become puffed up with their own glory, and
had undertaken to fly to the sun and moon and the field of stars, to
oust the gods from their bright home. But the gods sowed discord among
them, so that they fell a-fighting one another in the upper air, and
their swift palaces crashed down to the earth in thousands, to be
monuments of man's folly for ever after. In yet another saga it was
the men themselves who were winged. They inhabited dovecotes of
masonry, with summits overtopping the stars and outraging the gods;
who therefore destroyed them. Thus in one form or another, this theme
of the downfall of the mighty fliers of old tyrannized over these
abject peoples. Their crude tillage, their hunting, their defence
against the reviving carnivora, were hampered at every turn by fear of
offending the gods by any innovation.


2. THE RISE OF PATAGONIA


As the centuries piled up, the human species had inevitably diverged
once more into many races in the various geographical areas. And each
race consisted of a swarm of tribes, each ignorant of all but its
immediate neighbours. After many millennia this vast diversification
of stocks and cultures made it possible for fresh biological
transfusions and revivifications to occur. At last, after many racial
copulations, a people arose in whom the ancient dignity of humanity
was somewhat restored. Once more there was a real distinction between
the progressive and the backward regions, between "primitive" and
relatively enlightened cultures.

This rebirth occurred in the Southern Hemisphere. Complex climatic
changes had rendered the southern part of South America a fit nursery
for civilization. Further, an immense warping of the earth's crust to
the east and south of Patagonia, had turned what was once a relatively
shallow region of the ocean into a vast new land connecting America
with Antarctica by way of the former Falkland Islands and South
Georgia, and stretching thence east and north-east into the heart of
the Atlantic.

It happened also that in South America the racial conditions were more
favourable than elsewhere. After the fall of the First World State the
European element in this region had dwindled, and the ancient "Indian"
and Peruvian stock had come into dominance. Many thousands of years
earlier, this race had achieved a primitive civilization of its own.
After its ruin at the hands of the Spaniards, it had seemed a broken
and negligible thing; yet it had ever kept itself curiously aloof in
spirit from its conquerors. Though the two stocks had mingled
inextricably, there remained ever in the remoter parts of this
continent a way of life which was foreign to the dominant Americanism.
Superficially Americanized, it remained fundamentally "Indian" and
unintelligible to the rest of the world. Throughout the former
civilization this spirit had lain dormant like a seed in winter; but
with the return of barbarism it had sprouted, and quietly spread in
all directions. From the interaction of this ancient primitive culture
and the many other racial elements left over in the continent from the
old cosmopolitan civilization, civil life was to begin once more. Thus
in a manner the Incas were at last to triumph over their conquerors.

Various causes, then, combined in South America, and especially in the
new and virgin plains of Patagonia, to bring the First Dark Age to an
end. The great theme of mind began to repeat itself. But in a minor
key. For a grave disability hampered the Patagonians. They began to
grow old before their adolescence was completed. In the days of
Einstein, an individual's youth lasted some twenty-five years, and
under the World State it had been artificially doubled. After the
downfall of civilization the increasing natural brevity of the
individual life was no longer concealed by artifice, and at the end of
the First Dark Age a boy of fifteen was already settling into middle
age. Patagonian civilization at its height afforded considerable ease
and security of life, and enabled man to live to seventy or even
eighty; but the period of sensitive and supple youth remained at the
very best little more than a decade and a half. Thus the truly young
were never able to contribute to culture before they were already at
heart middle-aged. At fifteen their bones were definitely becoming
brittle, their hair grizzled, their faces lined. Their joints and
muscles were stiffening, their brains were no longer quick to learn
new adjustments, their fervour was evaporating.

It may seem strange that under these circumstances any kind of
civilization could be achieved by the race, that any generation should
ever have been able to do more than learn the tricks of its elders.
Yet in fact, though progress was never swift, it was steady. For
though these beings lacked much of the vigour of youth, they were
compensated somewhat by escaping much of youth's fevers and
distractions. The First Men, in fact, were now a race whose wild oats
had been sown; and though their youthful escapades had somewhat
crippled them, they had now the advantage of sobriety and singleness
of purpose. Though doomed by lassitude, and a certain fear of
extravagance, to fall short of the highest achievements of their
predecessors, they avoided much of the wasteful incoherence and mental
conflict which had tortured the earlier civilization at its height,
though not in its decline. Moreover, because their animal nature was
somewhat subdued, the Patagonians were more capable of dispassionate
cognition, and more inclined toward intellectualism. They were a people
in whom rational behaviour was less often subverted by passion, though
more liable to fail through mere indolence or faint-heartedness. Though
they found detachment relatively easy, theirs was the detachment of mere
lassitude, not the leap from the prison of life's cravings into a more
spacious world.

One source of the special character of the Patagonian mind was that in
it the sexual impulse was relatively weak. Many obscure causes had
helped to temper that lavish sexuality in respect of which the first
human species differed from all other animals, even the continuously
sexual apes. These causes were diverse, but they combined to produce
in the last phase of the life of the species a general curtailment of
excess energy. In the Dark Age the severity of the struggle for
existence had thrust the sexual interest back almost into the
subordinate place which it occupies in the animal mind. Coitus became
a luxury only occasionally desired, while self-preservation had become
once more an urgent and ever-present necessity. When at last life
began to be easier, sexuality remained in partial eclipse, for the
forces of racial "senescence" were at work. Thus the Patagonian
culture differed in mood from all the earlier cultures of the First
Men. Hitherto it had been the clash of sexuality and social taboo that
had generated half the fervour and half the delusions of the race. The
excess energy of a victorious species, directed by circumstance into
the great river of sex, and dammed by social convention, had been
canalized for a thousand labours. And though often it would break
loose and lay all waste before it, in the main it had been turned to
good account. At all times indeed, it had been prone to escape in all
directions and carve out channels for itself, as a lopped tree stump
sends forth not one but a score of shoots. Hence the richness,
diversity, incoherence, violent and uncomprehended cravings and
enthusiasms, of the earlier peoples. In the Patagonians there was no
such luxuriance. That they were not highly sexual was not in itself a
weakness. What mattered was that the springs of energy which formerly
happened to flood into the channel of sex were themselves
impoverished.

Conceive, then, a small and curiously sober people established east of
the ancient Bahia Blanca, and advancing century by century over the
plains and up the valleys. In time it reached and encircled the
heights which were once the island of South Georgia, while to the
north and west it spread into the Brazilian highlands and over the
Andes. Definitely of higher type than any of their neighbours,
definitely more vigorous and acute, the Patagonians were without
serious rivals. And since by temperament they were peaceable and
conciliatory, their cultural progress was little delayed, either by
military imperialism or internal strife. Like their predecessors in
the northern hemisphere, they passed through phases of disruption and
union, retrogression and regeneration; but their career was on the
whole more steadily progressive, and less dramatic, than anything that
had occurred before. Earlier peoples had leapt from barbarism to civil
life and collapsed again within a thousand years. The slow march of
the Patagonians took ten times as long to pass from a tribal to a
civic organization.

Eventually they comprised a vast and highly organized community of
autonomous provinces, whose political and cultural centre lay upon the
new coast north-east of the ancient Falkland Islands, while its
barbarian outskirts included much of Brazil and Peru. The absence of
serious strife between the various parts of this "empire" was due
partly to an innately pacific disposition, partly to a genius for
organization. These influences were strengthened by a curiously potent
tradition of cosmopolitanism, or human unity, which had been born in
the agony of disunion before the days of the World State, and was so
burnt into men's hearts that it survived as an element of myth even
through the Dark Age. So powerful was this tradition, that even when
the sailing ships of Patagonia had founded colonies in remote Africa
and Australia, these new communities remained at heart one with the
mother country. Even when the almost Nordic culture of the new and
temperate Antarctic coasts had outshone the ancient centre, the
political harmony of the race was never in danger.


3. THE CULT OF YOUTH


The Patagonians passed through all the spiritual phases that earlier
races had experienced, but in a distinctive manner. They had their
primitive tribal religion, derived from the dark past, and based on
the fear of natural forces. They had their monotheistic impersonation
of Power as a vindictive Creator. Their most adored racial hero was a
god-man who abolished the old religion of fear. They had their phases,
also, of devout ritual and their phases of rationalism, and again
their phases of empirical curiosity.

Most significant for the historian who would understand their special
mentality is the theme of the god-man; so curiously did it resemble,
yet differ from, similar themes in earlier cultures of the first human
species. He was conceived as eternally adolescent, and as mystically
the son of all men and women. Far from being the Elder Brother, he was
the Favourite Child; and indeed he epitomizes that youthful energy and
enthusiasm which the race now guessed was slipping away from it.
Though the sexual interest of this people was weak, the parental
interest was curiously strong. But the worship of the Favourite Son
was not merely parental; it expressed also both the individual's
craving for his own lost youth, and his obscure sense that the race
itself was senescent.

It was believed that the prophet had actually lived a century as a
fresh adolescent. He was designated the Boy who Refused to Grow Up.
And this vigour of will was possible to him, it was said, because in
him the feeble vitality of the race was concentrated many millionfold.
For he was the fruit of all parental passion that ever was and would
be; and as such he was divine. Primarily he was the Son of Man, but
also he was God. For God, in this religion, was no prime Creator but
the fruit of man's endeavour. The Creator was brute power, which had
quite inadvertently begotten a being nobler than itself. God, the
adorable, was the eternal outcome of man's labour in time, the
eternally realized promise of what man himself should become. Yet
though this cult was based on the will for a young-hearted future, it
was also overhung by a dread, almost at times a certainty, that in
fact such a future would never be, that the race was doomed to grow
old and die, that spirit could never conquer the corruptible flesh,
but must fade and vanish. Only by taking to heart the message of the
Divine Boy, it was said, could man hope to escape this doom.

Such was the legend. It is instructive to examine the reality. The
actual individual, in whom this myth of the Favourite Son was founded,
was indeed remarkable. Born of shepherd parents among the Southern
Andes, he had first become famous as the leader of a romantic "youth
movement"; and it was this early stage of his career that won him
followers. He urged the young to set an example to the old, to live
their own life undaunted by conventions, to enjoy, to work hard but
briefly, to be loyal comrades. Above all, he preached the religious
duty of remaining young in spirit. No one, he said, need grow old, if
he willed earnestly not to do so, if he would but keep his soul from
falling asleep, his heart open to all rejuvenating influences and shut
to every breath of senility. The delight of soul in soul, he said, was
the great rejuvenator; it re-created both lover and beloved. If
Patagonians would only appreciate each other's beauty without
jealousy, the race would grow young again. And the mission of his
ever-increasing Band of Youth was nothing less than the rejuvenation
of man.

The propagation of this attractive gospel was favoured by a seeming
miracle. The prophet turned out to be biologically unique among
Patagonians. When many of his coevals were showing signs of
senescence, he remained physically young. Also he possessed a sexual
vigour which to the Patagonians seemed miraculous. And since sexual
taboo was unknown, he exercised himself so heartily in love-making,
that he had paramours in every village, and presently his offspring
were numbered in hundreds. In this respect his followers strove hard
to live up to him, though with small success. But it was not only
physically that the prophet remained young. He preserved also a
striking youthful agility of mind. His sexual prodigality, though
startling to his contemporaries, was in him a temperate overflow of
surplus energy. Far from exhausting him, it refreshed him. Presently,
however, this exuberance gave place to a more sober life of work and
meditation. It was in this period that he began to differentiate
himself mentally from his fellows. For at twenty-five, when most
Patagonians were deeply settled into a mental groove, he was still
battling with successive waves of ideas, and striking out into the
unknown. Not till he was forty, and still physically in earlier
prime, did he gather his strength and deliver himself of his mature
gospel. This, his considered view of existence, turned out to be
almost unintelligible to Patagonians. Though in a sense it was an
expression of their own culture, it was an expression upon a plane of
vitality to which very few of them could ever reach.

The climax came when, during a ceremony in the supreme temple of the
capital city, while the worshippers were all prostrated before the
hideous image of the Creator, the ageless prophet strode up to the
altar, regarded first the congregation and then the god, burst into a
hearty peal of laughter, slapped the image resoundingly, and cried,
"Ugly, I salute you! Not as almighty, but as the greatest of all
jokers. To have such a face, and yet to be admired for it! To be so
empty, and yet so feared!" Instantly there was a hubbub. But such was
the young iconoclast's god-like radiance, confidence, unexpectedness,
and such his reputation as the miraculous Boy, that when he turned
upon the crowd, they fell silent, and listened to his scolding.

"Fools!" he cried. "Senile infants! If God really likes your
adulation, and all this hugger-mugger, it is because he enjoys the
joke against you, and against himself, too. You are too serious, yet
not serious enough; too solemn, and all for puerile ends. You are so
eager for life, that you cannot live. You cherish your youth so much
that it flies from you. When I was a boy, I said, 'Let us keep young';
and you applauded, and went about hugging your toys and refusing to
grow up. What I said was not bad for a boy, but it was not enough. Now
I am a man; and I say, 'For God's sake, grow up! Of course we must
keep young; but it is useless to keep young if we do not also grow up,
and never stop growing up. To keep young, surely, is just to keep
supple and keen; and to grow up is not at all a mere sinking into
stiffness and into disillusion, but a rising into ever finer skill in
all the actions of the game of living. There is something else, too,
which is a part of growing up--to see that life is really, after all,
a game; a terribly serious game, no doubt, but none the less a game.
When we play a game, as it should be played, we strain every muscle to
win; but all the while we care less for winning than for the game. And
we play the better for it. When barbarians play against a Patagonian
team, they forget that it is a game, and go mad for victory. And then
how we despise them! If they find themselves losing, they turn savage;
if winning, blatant. Either way, the game is murdered, and they cannot
see that they are slaughtering a lovely thing. How they pester and
curse the umpire, too! I have done that myself, of course, before now;
not in games but in life. I have actually cursed the umpire of life.
Better so, anyhow, than to insult him with presents, in the hope of
being favoured; which is what you are doing here, with your salaams
and your vows. I never did that. I merely hated him. Then later I
learned to laugh at him, or rather at the thing you set up in his
place. But now at last I see him clearly, and laugh with him, at
myself, for having missed the spirit of the game. But as for you!
Coming here to fawn and whine and cadge favours of the umpire!"

At this point the people rushed toward him to seize him. But he
checked them with a young laugh that made them love while they hated.
He spoke again.

"I want to tell you how I came to learn my lesson. I have a queer love
for clambering about the high mountains; and once when I was up among
the snow-fields and precipices of Aconcagua, I was caught in a
blizzard. Perhaps some of you may know what storms can be like in the
mountains. The air became a hurtling flood of snow. I was swallowed up
and carried away. After many hours of floundering, I fell into a
snow-drift. I tried to rise, but fell again and again, till my head was
buried. The thought of death enraged me, for there was still so much
that I wanted to do. I struggled frantically, vainly. Then suddenly--
how can I put it?--I saw the game that I was losing, and it was good.
Good, no less to lose than to win. For it was the game, now, not
victory, that mattered. Hitherto I had been blindfold, and a slave to
victory; suddenly I was free, and with sight. For now I saw myself,
and all of us, through the eyes of the umpire. It was as though a
play-actor were to see the whole play, with his own part in it,
through the author's eyes, from the auditorium. Here was I, acting the
part of a rather fine man who had come to grief through his own
carelessness before his work was done. For me, a character in the
play, the situation was hideous; yet for me, the spectator, it had
become excellent, within a wider excellence. I saw that it was equally
so with all of us, and with all the worlds. For I seemed to see a
thousand worlds taking part with us in the great show. And I saw
everything through the calm eyes, the exultant, almost derisive, yet
not unkindly, eyes of the playwright.

"Well, it had seemed that my exit had come; but no, there was still a
cue for me. Somehow I was so strengthened by this new view of things
that I struggled out of the snow-drift. And here I am once more. But I
am a new man. My spirit is free. While I was a boy, I said, 'Grow more
alive'; but in those days I never guessed that there was an aliveness
far intenser than youth's flicker, a kind of still incandescence. Is
there no one here who knows what I mean? No one who at least _desires_
this keener living? The first step is to outgrow this adulation of
life itself, and this cadging obsequiousness toward Power. Come! Put
it away! Break the ridiculous image in your hearts, as I now smash
this idol."

So saying he picked up a great candlestick and shattered the image.
Once more there was an uproar, and the temple authorities had him
arrested. Not long afterwards he was tried for sacrilege and executed.
For this final extravagance was but the climax of many indiscretions,
and those in power were glad to have so obvious a pretext for
extinguishing this brilliant but dangerous lunatic.

But the cult of the Divine Boy had already become very popular, for
the earlier teaching of the prophet expressed the fundamental craving
of the Patagonians. Even his last and perplexing message was accepted
by his followers, though without real understanding. Emphasis was laid
upon the act of iconoclasm, rather than upon the spirit of his
exhortation.

Century by century, the new religion, for such it was, spread over the
civilized world. And the race seemed to have been spiritually
rejuvenated to some extent by widespread fervour. Physically also a
certain rejuvenation took place; for before his death this unique
biological "sport," or throw-back to an earlier vitality, produced
some thousands of sons and daughters; and they in turn propagated the
good seed far and wide. Undoubtedly it was this new strain that
brought about the golden age of Patagonia, greatly improving the
material conditions of the race, carrying civilization into the
northern continents and attacking problems of science and philosophy
with renewed ardour.

But the revival was not permanent. The descendants of the prophet
prided themselves too much on violent living. Physically, sexually,
mentally, they over-reached themselves and became enfeebled. Moreover,
little by little the potent strain was diluted and overwhelmed by
intercourse with the greater volume of the innately "senile;" so that,
after a few centuries, the race returned to its middle-aged mood. At
the same time the vision of the Divine Boy was gradually distorted. At
first it had been youth's ideal of what youth should be, a pattern
woven of fanatical loyalty, irresponsible gaiety, comradeship,
physical gusto, and not a little pure devilry. But insensibly it
became a pattern of that which was expected of youth by sad maturity.
The violent young hero was sentimentalized into the senior's vision of
childhood, na´ve and docile. All that had been violent was forgotten;
and what was left became a whimsical and appealing stimulus to the
parental impulses. At the same time this phantom was credited with all
the sobriety and caution which are so easily appreciated by the
middle-aged.

Inevitably this distorted image of youth became an incubus upon the
actual young men and women of the race. It was held up as the model
social virtue; but it was a model to which they could never conform
without doing violence to their best nature, since it was not any
longer an expression of youth at all. Just as, in an earlier age,
women had been idealized and at the same time hobbled, so now, youth.

Some few, indeed, throughout the history of Patagonia, attained a
clearer vision of the prophet. Fewer still were able to enter into the
spirit of his final message, in which his enduring youthfulness raised
him to a maturity alien to Patagonia. For the tragedy of this people
was not so much their "senescence" as their arrested growth. Feeling
themselves old, they yearned to be young again. But, through fixed
immaturity of mind, they could never recognize that the true, though
unlooked-for, fulfillment of youth's passionate craving is not the mere
achievement of the ends of youth itself, but an advance into a more
awake and far-seeing vitality.


4. THE CATASTROPHE


It was in these latter days that the Patagonians discovered the
civilization that had preceded them. In rejecting the ancient religion
of fear, they had abandoned also the legend of a remote magnificence,
and had come to regard themselves as pioneers of the mind. In the new
continent which was their homeland there were, of course, no relics of
the ancient order; and the ruins that besprinkled the older regions
had been explained as mere freaks of nature. But latterly, with the
advance of natural knowledge, archaeologists had reconstructed
something of the forgotten world. And the crisis came when, in the
basement of a shattered pylon in China, they found a store of metal
plates (constructed of an immensely durable artificial element), on
which were embossed crowded lines of writing. These objects were, in
fact, blocks from which books were printed a thousand centuries
earlier. Other deposits were soon discovered, and bit by bit the dead
language was deciphered. Within three centuries the outline of the
ancient culture was laid bare; and presently the whole history of
man's rise and ruin fell upon this latter-day civilization with
crushing effect, as though an ancient pylon were to have fallen on a
village of wigwams at its foot. The pioneers discovered that all the
ground which they had so painfully won from the wild had been
conquered long ago, and lost; that on the material side their glory
was nothing beside the glory of the past; and that in the sphere of
mind they had established only a few scattered settlements where
formerly was an empire. The Patagonian system of natural knowledge had
been scarcely further advanced than that of pre-Newtonian Europe. They
had done little more than conceive the scientific spirit and unlearn a
few superstitions. And now suddenly they came into a vast inheritance
of thought.

This in itself was a gravely disturbing experience for a people of
strong intellectual interest. But even more overwhelming was the
discovery, borne in on them in the course of their research, that the
past had been not only brilliant but crazy, and that in the long run
the crazy element had completely triumphed. For the Patagonian mind
was by now too sane and empirical to accept the ancient knowledge
without testing it. The findings of the archaeologists were handed
over to the physicists and other scientists, and the firm thought and
valuation of Europe and America at their zenith were soon
distinguished from the degenerate products of the World State.

The upshot of this impact with a more developed civilization was
dramatic and tragic. It divided the Patagonians into loyalists and
rebels, into those who clung to the view that the new learning was a
satanic lie, and those who faced the facts. To the former party the
facts were thoroughly depressing; the latter, though overawed, found
in them a compelling majesty, and also a hope. That the earth was a
mote among the star-clouds was the least subversive of the new
doctrines, for the Patagonians had already abandoned the geocentric
view. What was so distressing to the reactionaries was the theory that
an earlier race had long ago possessed and spent the vitality that
they themselves so craved. The party of progress, on the other hand,
urged that this vast new knowledge must be used; and that, thus
equipped, Patagonia might compensate for lack of youthfulness by
superior sanity.

This divergence of will resulted in a physical conflict such as had
never before occurred in the Patagonian world. Something like
nationalism emerged. The more vigorous Antarctic coasts became modern,
while Patagonia itself clung to the older culture. There were several
wars, but as physics and chemistry advanced in Antarctica, the
Southerners were able to devise engines of war which the Northerners
could not resist. In a couple of centuries the new "culture" had
triumphed. The world was once more unified.

Hitherto Patagonian civilization had been of a mediaeval type. Under
the influence of physics and chemistry it began to change. Wind and
water-power began to be used for the generation of electricity. Vast
mining operations were undertaken in search of the metals and other
minerals which no longer occurred at easy depths. Architecture began
to make use of steel. Electrically driven aeroplanes were made, but
without real success. And this failure was symptomatic; for the
Patagonians were not sufficiently foolhardy to master aviation, even
had their planes been more efficient. They themselves naturally
attributed their failure wholly to lack of a convenient source of
power, such as the ancient petrol. Indeed this lack of oil and coal
hampered them at every turn. Volcanic power, of course, was available;
but, never having been really mastered by the more resourceful
ancients, it defeated the Patagonians completely.

As a matter of fact, in wind and water they had all that was needed.
The resources of the whole planet were available, and the world
population was less than a hundred million. With this source alone
they could never, indeed, have competed in luxury with the earlier
World State, but they might well have achieved something like Utopia.

But this was not to be. Industrialism, though accompanied by only a
slow increase of population, produced in time most of the social
discords which had almost ruined their predecessors. To them it
appeared that all their troubles would be solved if only their
material power were far ampler. This strong and scarcely rational
conviction was a symptom of their ruling obsession, the craving for
increased vitality.

Under these circumstances it was natural that one event and one strand
of ancient history should fascinate them. The secret of limitless
material power had once been known and lost. Why should not
Patagonians rediscover it, and use it, with their superior sanity, to
bring heaven on earth? The ancients, no doubt, did well to forgo this
dangerous source of power; but the Patagonians, level-headed and
single-minded, need have no fear. Some, indeed, considered it less
important to seek power than to find a means of checking biological
senescence; but, unfortunately, though physical science had advanced
so rapidly, the more subtle biological sciences had remained backward,
largely because among the ancients themselves little more had been
done than to prepare their way. Thus it happened that the most
brilliant minds of Patagonia, fascinated by the prize at stake,
concentrated upon the problem of matter. The state encouraged this
research by founding and endowing laboratories whose avowed end was
this sole work.

The problem was difficult, and the Patagonian scientists, though
intelligent, were somewhat lacking in grit. Only after some five
hundred years of intermittent research was the secret discovered, or
partially so. It was found possible, by means of a huge initial
expenditure of energy, to annihilate the positive and negative
electric charges in one not very common kind of atom. But this
limitation mattered not at all; the human race now possessed an
inexhaustible source of power which could be easily manipulated and
easily controlled. But though controllable, the new gift was not
foolproof; and there was no guarantee that those who used it might not
use it foolishly, or inadvertently let it get out of hand.

Unfortunately, at the time when the new source of energy was
discovered, the Patagonians were more divided than of old.
Industrialism, combined with the innate docility of the race, had
gradually brought about a class cleavage more extreme even than that
of the ancient world, though a cleavage of a curiously different kind.
The strongly parental disposition of the average Patagonian prevented
the dominant class from such brutal exploitation as had formerly
occurred. Save during the first century of industrialism, there was no
serious physical suffering among the proletariat. A paternal
government saw to it that all Patagonians were at least properly fed
and clothed, that all had ample leisure and opportunities of
amusement. At the same time they saw to it also that the populace
became more and more regimented. As in the First World State, civil
authority was once more in the hands of a small group of masters of
industry, but with a difference. Formerly the dominant motive of big
business had been an almost mystical passion for the creation of
activity; now the ruling minority regarded themselves as standing
towards the populace _in loco parentis_, and aimed at creating "a
young-hearted people, simple, gay, vigorous and loyal." Their ideal of
the state was something between a preparatory school under a
sympathetic but strict adult staff, and a joint-stock company, in which
the shareholders retained only one function, to delegate their powers
thankfully to a set of brilliant directors.

That the system had worked so well and survived so long was due not
only to innate Patagonian docility, but also to the principle by which
the governing class recruited itself. One lesson at least had been
learnt from the bad example of the earlier civilization, namely
respect for intelligence. By a system of careful testing, the
brightest children were selected from all classes and trained to be
governors. Even the children of the governors themselves were
subjected to the same examination, and only those who qualified were
sent to the "schools for young governors." Some corruption no doubt
existed, but in the main this system worked. The children thus
selected were very carefully trained in theory and practice, as
organizers, scientists, priests and logicians.

The less brilliant children of the race were educated very differently
from the young governors. It was impressed on them that they were less
able than the others. They were taught to respect the governors as
superior beings, who were called upon to serve the community in
specially skilled and arduous work, simply because of their ability.
It would not be true to say that the less intelligent were educated
merely to be slaves; rather they were expected to be the docile,
diligent and happy sons and daughters of the fatherland. They were
taught to be loyal and optimistic. They were given vocational training
for their various occupations, and encouraged to use their
intelligence as much as possible upon the plane suited to it; but the
affairs of the state and the problems of religion and theoretical
science were strictly forbidden. The official doctrine of the beauty
of youth was fundamental in their education. They were taught all the
conventional virtues of youth, and in particular modesty and
simplicity. As a class they were extremely healthy, for physical
training was a very important part of education in Patagonia.
Moreover, the universal practice of sun-bathing, which was a religious
rite, was especially encouraged among the proletariat, as it was
believed to keep the body "young" and the mind placid. The leisure of
the governed class was devoted mostly to athletics and other sport,
physical and mental. Music and other forms of art were also practised,
for these were considered fit occupations for juveniles. The
government exercised a censorship over artistic products, but it was
seldom enforced; for the common folk of Patagonia were mostly too
phlegmatic and too busy to conceive anything but the most obvious and
respectable art. They were fully occupied with work and pleasure. They
suffered no sexual restraints. Their impersonal interests were
satisfied with the official religion of youth-worship and loyalty to
the community.

This placid condition lasted for some four hundred years after the
first century of industrialism. But as time passed the mental
difference between the two classes increased. Superior intelligence
became rarer and rarer among the proletariat; the governors were
recruited more and more from their own offspring, until finally they
became an hereditary caste. The gulf widened. The governors began to
lose all mental contact with the governed. They made a mistake which
could never have been committed had their psychology kept pace with
their other sciences. Ever confronted with the workers' lack of
intelligence, they came to treat them more and more as children, and
forgot that, though simple, they were grown men and women who needed
to feel themselves as free partners in a great human enterprise.
Formerly this illusion of responsibility had been sedulously
encouraged. But as the gulf widened the proletarians were treated
rather as infants than as adolescents, rather as well-cared-for
domestic animals than as human beings. Their lives became more and
more minutely, though benevolently, systematized for them. At the same
time less care was taken to educate them up to an understanding and
appreciation of the common human enterprise. Under these circumstances
the temper of the people changed. Though their material condition was
better than had ever been known before, save under the First World
State, they became listless, discontented, mischievous, ungrateful to
their superiors.

Such was the state of affairs when the new source of energy was
discovered. The world community consisted of two very different
elements, first a small, highly intellectual caste, passionately
devoted to the state and to the advancement of culture amongst
themselves; and, second, a much more numerous population of rather
obtuse, physically well-cared-for, and spiritually starved
industrialists. A serious clash between the two classes had already
occurred over the use of a certain drug, favoured by the people for
the bliss it produced, forbidden by the governors for its evil
after-effects. The drug was abolished; but the motive was misinterpreted by
the proletariat. This incident brought to the surface a hate that had
for long been gathering strength in the popular mind, though
unwittingly.

When rumour got afoot that in future mechanical power would be
unlimited, the people expected a millennium. Every one would have his
own limitless source of energy. Work would cease. Pleasure would be
increased to infinity. Unfortunately the first use made of the new
power was extensive mining at unheard-of depths in search of metals
and other minerals which had long ago ceased to be available near the
surface. This involved difficult and dangerous work for the miners.
There were casualties. Riots occurred. The new power was used upon the
rioters with murderous effect, the governors declaring that, though
their paternal hearts bled for their foolish children, this
chastisement was necessary to prevent worse evils. The workers were
urged to face their troubles with that detachment which the Divine Boy
had preached in his final phase; but this advice was greeted with the
derision which it deserved. Further strikes, riots, assassinations.
The proletariat had scarcely more power against their masters than
sheep against the shepherd, for they had not the brains for
large-scale organization. But it was through one of these pathetically
futile rebellions that Patagonia was at last destroyed.

A petty dispute had occurred in one of the new mines. The management
refused to allow miners to teach their trade to their sons; for
vocational education, it was said, should be carried on
professionally. Indignation against this interference with parental
authority caused a sudden flash of the old rage. A power unit was
seized, and after a bout of insane monkeying with the machinery, the
mischief-makers inadvertently got things into such a state that at
last the awful djin of physical energy was able to wrench off his
fetters and rage over the planet. The first explosion was enough to
blow up the mountain range above the mine. In those mountains were
huge tracts of the critical element, and these were detonated by rays
from the initial explosion. This sufficed to set in action still more
remote tracts of the elements. An incandescent hurricane spread over
the whole of Patagonia, reinforcing itself with fresh atomic fury
wherever it went, It raged along the line of the Andes and the
Rockies, scorching both continents with its heat. It undermined and
blew up the Behring Straits, spread like a brood of gigantic fiery
serpents into Asia, Europe and Africa. Martians, already watching the
earth as a cat a bird beyond its spring, noted that the brilliance of
the neighbour planet was suddenly enhanced. Presently the oceans began
to boil here and there with submarine commotion. Tidal waves mangled
the coasts and floundered up the valleys. But in time the general sea
level sank considerably through evaporation and the opening of chasms
in the ocean floor. All volcanic regions became fantastically active.
The polar caps began to melt, but prevented the arctic regions from
being calcined like the rest of the planet. The atmosphere was a
continuous dense cloud of moisture, fumes and dust, churned in
ceaseless hurricanes. As the fury of the electromagnetic collapse
proceeded, the surface temperature of the planet steadily increased,
till only in the Arctic and a few favoured corners of the sub-Arctic
could life persist.

Patagonia's death agony was brief. In Africa and Europe a few remote
settlements escaped the actual track of the eruptions, but succumbed
in a few weeks to the hurricanes of steam. Of the two hundred million
members of the human race, all were burnt or roasted or suffocated
within three months--all but thirty-five, who happened to be in the
neighbourhood of the North Pole.



CHAPTER VI. TRANSITION


1. THE FIRST MEN AT BAY


By one of those rare tricks of fortune, which are as often favourable
as hostile to humanity, an Arctic exploration ship had recently been
embedded in the pack-ice for a long drift across the Polar sea. She
was provisioned for four years, and when the catastrophe occurred she
had already been at sea for six months. She was a sailing vessel; the
expedition had been launched before it was practicable to make use of
the new source of power. The crew consisted of twenty-eight men and
seven women. Individuals of an earlier and more sexual race,
proportioned thus, in such close proximity and isolation, would almost
certainly have fallen foul of one another sooner or later. But to
Patagonians the arrangement was not intolerable. Besides managing the
whole domestic side of the expedition, the seven women were able to
provide moderate sexual delight for all, for in this people the female
sexuality was much less reduced than the male. There were, indeed,
occasional jealousies and feuds in the little community, but these
were subordinated to a strong _esprit de corps_. The whole company
had, of course, been very carefully chosen for comradeship, loyalty,
and health, as well as for technical skill. All claimed descent from
the Divine Boy. All were of the governing class. One quaint expression
of the strongly parental Patagonian temperament was that a pair of
diminutive pet monkeys was taken with the expedition.

The crew's first intimation of the catastrophe was a furious hot wind
that melted the surface of the ice. The sky turned black. The Arctic
summer became a weird and sultry night, torn by fantastic
thunderstorms. Rain crashed on the ship's deck in a continuous
waterfall. Clouds of pungent smoke and dust irritated the eyes and
nose. Submarine earthquakes buckled the pack-ice.

A year after the explosion, the ship was labouring in tempestuous and
berg-strewn water near the Pole. The bewildered little company now
began to feel its way south; but, as they proceeded, the air became
more fiercely hot and pungent, the storms more savage. Another twelve
months were spent in beating about the Polar sea, ever and again
retreating north from the impossible southern weather. But at length
conditions improved slightly, and with great difficulty these few
survivors of the human race approached their original objective in
Norway, to find that the lowlands were a scorched and lifeless desert,
while on the heights the valley vegetation was already struggling to
establish itself, in patches of sickly green. Their base town had been
flattened by a hurricane, and the skeletons of its population still
lay in the streets. They coasted further south. Everywhere the same
desolation. Hoping that the disturbance might be merely local, they
headed round the British Isles and doubled back on France. But France
turned out to be an appalling chaos of volcanoes. With a change of
wind, the sea around them was infuriated with falling debris, often
red hot. Miraculously they got away and fled north again. After
creeping along the Siberian coast they were at last able to find a
tolerable resting-place at the mouth of one of the great rivers. The
ship was brought to anchor, and the crew rested. They were a
diminished company, for six men and two women had been lost on the
voyage.

Conditions even here must recently have been far more severe, since
much of the vegetation had been scorched, and dead animals were
frequent. But evidently the first fury of the vast explosion was now
abating.

By this time the voyagers were beginning to realize the truth. They
remembered the half jocular prophecies that the new power would sooner
or later wreck the planet, prophecies which had evidently been all too
well founded. There had been a world-wide disaster; and they
themselves had been saved only by their remoteness and the Arctic ice
from a fate that had probably overwhelmed all their fellow men.

So desperate was the outlook for a handful of exhausted persons on a
devastated planet, that some urged suicide. All dallied with the idea,
save a woman, who had unexpectedly become pregnant. In her the strong
parental disposition of her race was now awakened, and she implored
the party to make a fight for the sake of her child. Reminded that the
baby would only be born into a life of hardship, she reiterated with
more persistence than reason, "My baby must live."

The men shrugged their shoulders. But as their tired bodies recovered
after the recent struggle, they began to realize the solemnity of
their position. It was one of the biologists who expressed a thought
which was already present to all. There was at least a chance of
survival, and if ever men and women had a sacred duty, surely these
had, for they were now the sole trustees of the human spirit. At
whatever cost of toil and misery they must people the earth again.

This common purpose now began to exalt them, and brought them all into
a rare intimacy. "We are ordinary folk," said the biologist, "but
somehow we must become great." And they were, indeed, in a manner made
great by their unique position. In generous minds a common purpose and
common suffering breed a deep passion of comradeship, expressed
perhaps not in words but in acts of devotion. These, in their
loneliness and their sense of obligation, experienced not only
comradeship, but a vivid communion with one another as instruments of
a sacred cause.

The party now began to build a settlement beside the river. Though the
whole area had, of course, been devastated, vegetation had soon
revived, from roots and seeds, buried or wind borne. The countryside
was now green with those plants that had been able to adjust
themselves to the new climate. Animals had suffered far more
seriously. Save for the Arctic fox, a few small rodents, and one herd
of reindeer, none were left but the dwellers in the actual Arctic
seas, the Polar bear, various cetaceans, and seals. Of fish there were
plenty. Birds in great numbers had crowded out of the south, and had
died off in thousands through lack of food, but certain species were
already adjusting themselves to the new environment. Indeed, the whole
remaining fauna and flora of the planet was passing through a phase of
rapid and very painful readjustment. Many well-established species had
wholly failed to get a footing in the new world, while certain
hitherto insignificant types were able to forge ahead.

The party found it possible to grow maize and even rice from seed
brought from a ruined store in Norway. But the great heat, frequent
torrential rain, and lack of sunlight, made agriculture laborious and
precarious. Moreover, the atmosphere had become seriously impure, and
the human organism had not yet succeeded in adapting itself.
Consequently the party were permanently tired and liable to disease.

The pregnant woman had died in child-birth, but her baby lived. It
became the party's most sacred object, for it kindled in every mind
the strong parental disposition so characteristic of Patagonians.

Little by little the numbers of the settlement were reduced by
sickness, hurricanes and volcanic gases. But in time they achieved a
kind of equilibrium with their environment, and even a certain
strenuous amenity of life. As their prosperity increased, however,
their unity diminished. Differences of temperament began to be
dangerous. Among the men two leaders had emerged, or rather one leader
and a critic. The original head of the expedition had proved quite
incapable of dealing with the new situation, and had at last committed
suicide. The company had then chosen the second navigating officer as
their chief, and had chosen him unanimously. The other born leader of
the party was a junior biologist, a man of very different type. The
relations of these two did much to determine the future history of
man, and are worthy of study in themselves; but here we can only
glance at them. In all times of stress the navigator's authority was
absolute, for everything depended on his initiative and heroic
example. But in less arduous periods, murmurs arose against him for
exacting discipline when discipline seemed unnecessary. Between him
and the young biologist there grew up a strange blend of hostility and
affection; for the latter, though critical, loved and admired the
other, and declared that the survival of the party depended on this
one man's practical genius.

Three years after their landing, the community, though reduced in
numbers and in vitality, was well established in a routine of hunting,
agriculture and building. Three fairly healthy infants rejoiced and
exasperated their elders. With security, the navigator's genius for
action found less scope, while the knowledge of the scientists became
more valuable. Plant and poultry-breeding were beyond the range of the
heroic leader, and in prospecting for minerals he was equally
helpless. Inevitably as time passed he and the other navigators grew
restless and irritable; and at last, when the leader decreed that the
party should take to the ship and explore for better land, a serious
dispute occurred. All the sea-farers applauded; but the scientists,
partly through clearer understanding of the calamity that had befallen
the planet, partly through repugnance at the hardship involved,
refused to go.

Violent emotions were aroused; but both sides restrained themselves
through well-tried mutual respect and loyalty to the community. Then
suddenly sexual passion set a light to the tinder. The woman who, by
general consent, had come to be queen of the settlement, and was
regarded as sacred to the leader, asserted her independence by
sleeping with one of the scientists. The leader surprised them, and in
sudden rage killed the young man. The little community at once fell
into two armed factions, and more blood was shed. Very soon, however,
the folly and sacrilege of this brawl became evident to these few
survivors of a civilized race, and after a parley a grave decision was
made.

The company was to be divided. One party, consisting of five men and
two women, under the young biologist, was to remain in the settlement.
The leader himself, with the remaining nine men and two women, were to
navigate the ship toward Europe, in search of a better land. They
promised to send word, if possible, during the following year.

With this decision taken the two parties once more became amicable.
All worked to equip the pioneers. When at last it was the time of
departure, there was a solemn leave-taking. Every one was relieved at
the cessation of a painful incompatibility; but more poignant than
relief was the distressed affection of those who had so long been
comrades in a sacred enterprise.

It was a parting even more momentous than was supposed. For from this
act arose at length two distinct human species.

Those who stayed behind heard no more of the wanderers, and finally
concluded that they had come to grief. But in fact they were driven
West and South-west past Iceland, now a cluster of volcanoes, to
Labrador. On this voyage through fantastic storms and oceanic
convulsions they lost nearly half their number, and were at last
unable to work the ship. When finally they were wrecked on a rocky
coast, only the carpenter's mate, two women, and the pair of monkeys
succeeded in clambering ashore.

These found themselves in a climate far more sultry than Siberia; but
like Siberia, Labrador contained uplands of luxuriant vegetation. The
man and his two women had at first great difficulty in finding food,
but in time they adapted themselves to a diet of berries and roots. As
the years passed, however, the climate undermined their mentality and
their descendants sank into abject savagery, finally degenerating into
a type that was human only in respect of its ancestry.

The little Siberian settlement was now hard-pressed but single-minded.
Calculation had convinced the scientists that the planet would not
return to its normal state for some millions of years; for though the
first and superficial fury of the disaster had already ceased, the
immense pent-up energy of the central explosions would take millions
of years to leak out through volcanic vents. The leader of the party,
by rare luck a man of genius, conceived their situation thus. For
millions of years the planet would be uninhabitable save for a fringe
of Siberian coast. The human race was doomed for ages to a very
restricted and uncongenial environment. All that could be hoped for
was the persistence of a mere remnant of civilized humanity, which
should be able to lie dormant until a more favourable epoch. With this
end in view the party must propagate itself, and make some possibility
of cultured life for its offspring. Above all it must record in some
permanent form as much as it could remember of Patagonian culture. "We
are the germ," he said. "We must play for safety, mark time, preserve
man's inheritance. The chances against us are almost overwhelming, but
just possibly we shall win through."

And so in fact they did. Several times almost exterminated at the
outset, these few harassed individuals preserved their spark of
humanity. A close inspection of their lives would reveal an intense
personal drama; for, in spite of the sacred purpose which united them,
almost as muscles in one limb, they were individuals of different
temperaments. The children, moreover, caused jealousy between their
parentally hungry elders, There was ever a subdued, and sometimes an
open, rivalry to gain the affection of these young things, these few
and precious buds on the human stem. Also there was sharp disagreement
about their education. For though all the elders adored them simply
for their childishness, one at least, the visionary leader of the
party, thought of them chiefly as potential vessels of the human
spirit, to be moulded strictly for their great function. In this
perpetual subdued antagonism of aims and temperaments the little
society lived from day to day, much as a limb functions in the
antagonism of its muscles.

The adults of the party devoted much of their leisure during the long
winters to the heroic labour of recording the outline of man's whole
knowledge. This task was very dear to the leader, but the others often
grew weary of it. To each person a certain sphere of culture was
assigned; and after he or she had thought out a section and scribbled
it down on slate, it was submitted to the company for criticism, and
finally engraved deeply on tablets of hard stone. Many thousands of
such tablets were produced in the course of years, and were stored in
a cave which was carefully prepared for them. Thus was recorded
something of the history of the earth and of man, the outlines of
physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, and geometry. Each scribe set
down also in some detail a summary of his own special study, and added
a personal manifesto of his own views about existence. Much ingenuity
was spent in devising a vast pictorial dictionary and grammar, with
which, it was hoped, the remote future might interpret the whole
library.

Years passed while this immense registration of human thought was
still in progress. The founders of the settlement grew feebler while
the eldest of the next generation were still adolescent. Of the two
women, one had died and the other was almost a cripple, both martyrs
to the task of motherhood. A youth, an infant boy, and four girls of
various ages--on these the future of man now depended. Unfortunately
these precious beings had suffered from their very preciousness. Their
education had been bungled. They had been both pampered and oppressed.
Nothing was thought too good for them, but they were overwhelmed with
cherishing and teaching. Thus they came to hold the elders at arm's
length, and to weary of the ideals imposed on them. Brought into a
ruined world without their own consent, they refused to accept the
crushing obligation toward an improbable future. Hunting, and the
daily struggle of a pioneering age, afforded their spirits full
exercise in courage, mutual loyalty, and interest in one another's
personality. They would live for the present only, and for the
tangible reality, not for a culture which they knew only by hearsay.
In particular, they loathed the hardship of engraving endless verbiage
upon granitic slabs.

The crisis came when the eldest girl had crossed the threshold of
physical maturity. The leader told her that it was her duty to begin
bearing children at once, and ordered her to have intercourse with her
half-brother, his own son. Having herself assisted at the last birth,
which had destroyed her mother, she refused; and when pressed she
dropped her graving tool and fled. This was the first serious act of
rebellion. In a few years the older generation was deposed from
authority. A new way of life, more active, more dangerous, zestful and
careless, resulted in a lowering of the community's standard of
comfort and organization, but also in greater health and vitality.
Experiments in plant and stock-breeding were neglected, buildings went
out of repair; but great feats of hunting and exploration were
undertaken. Leisure was given over to games of hazard and calculation,
to dancing, singing and romantic story-telling. Music and romance,
indeed, were now the main expression of the finer nature of these
beings, and became the vehicles of obscure religious experience. The
intellectualism of the elders was ridiculed. What could their poor
sciences tell of reality, of the many-faced, never-for-a-moment-the-same,
superbly inconsequent, and ever-living Real? Man's intelligence
was all right for hunting and tillage in the world of common sense;
but if he rode it further afield, he would find himself in a desert,
and his soul would starve. Let him live as nature prompted. Let him
keep the young god in his heart alive. Let him give free play to the
struggling, irrational, dark vitality that sought to realize itself in
him not as logic but as beauty.

The tablets were now engraved only by the aged.

But one day, after the infant boy had reached the early Patagonian
adolescence, his curiosity was roused by the tail-like hind limbs of a
seal. The old people timidly encouraged him. He made other biological
observations, and was led on to envisage the whole drama of life on
the planet, and to conceive loyalty to the cause which they had
served.

Meanwhile, sexual and parental nature had triumphed where schooling
had failed. The young things inevitably fell in love with each other,
and in time several infants appeared.

Thus, generation by generation, the little settlement maintained
itself with varying success, varying zestfulness, and varying loyalty
toward the future. With changing conditions the population fluctuated,
sinking as low as two men and one woman, but increasing gradually up
to a few thousand, the limit set by the food capacity of their strip
of coast. In the long run, though circumstances did not prevent
material survival, they made for mental decline. For the Siberian
coast remained a tropical land bounded on the south by a forest of
volcanoes; and consequently in the long run the generations declined
in mental vigour and subtlety. This result was perhaps due in part to
too intensive inbreeding; but this factor had also one good effect.
Though mental vigour waned, certain desirable characteristics were
consolidated. The founders of the group represented the best remaining
stock of the first human species. They had been chosen for their
hardihood and courage, their native loyalty, their strong cognitive
interest. Consequently, in spite of phases of depression, the race not
only survived but retained its curiosity and its group feeling. Even
while the ability of men decreased, their will to understand, and
their sense of racial unity, remained. Though their conception of man
and the universe gradually sank into crude myth, they preserved a
strong unreasoning loyalty towards the future, and toward the now
sacred stone library which was rapidly becoming unintelligible to
them. For thousands and even millions of years, after the species had
materially changed its nature, there remained a vague admiration for
mental prowess, a confused tradition of a noble past, and pathetic
loyalty toward a still nobler future. Above all, internecine strife
was so rare that it served only to strengthen the clear will to
preserve the unity and harmony of the race.


2. THE SECOND DARK AGE


We must now pass rapidly over the Second Dark Age, observing merely
those influences which were to affect the future of humanity.

Century by century the pent energy of the vast explosion dispersed
itself; but not till many hundred thousand years had passed did the
swarms of upstart volcanoes begin to die, and not till after millions
of years did the bulk of the planet become once more a possible home
for life.

During this period many changes took place. The atmosphere became
clearer, purer and less turbulent. With the fall of temperature, frost
and snow appeared occasionally in the Arctic regions, and in due
course the Polar caps were formed again. Meanwhile, ordinary
geological processes, augmented by the strains to which the planet was
subjected by increased internal pressure, began to change the
continents. South America mostly collapsed into the hollows blasted
beneath it, but a new land rose to join Brazil with West Africa. The
East Indies and Australia became a continuous continent. The huge mass
of Thibet sank deeply into its disturbed foundations, lunged West, and
buckled Afghanistan into a range of peaks nearly forty thousand feet
above the sea. Europe sank under the Atlantic. Rivers writhed
shiftingly hither and thither upon the continents, like tortured
worms. New alluvial areas were formed. New strata were laid upon one
another under new oceans. New animals and plants developed from the
few surviving Arctic species, and spread south through Asia and
America. In the new forests and grass-lands appeared various
specialized descendants of the reindeer, and swarms of rodents. Upon
these preyed the large and small descendants of the Arctic fox, of
which one species, a gigantic wolflike creature, rapidly became the
"King of Beasts" in the new order, and remained so, until it was
ousted by the more slowly modified offspring of the polar bears. A
certain genus of seals, reverting to the ancient terrestrial habit,
had developed a slender snake-like body and an almost swift, and very
serpentine, mode of locomotion among the coastal sand-dunes. There it
was wont to stalk its rodent prey, and even follow them into their
burrows. Everywhere there were birds. Many of the places left vacant
by the destruction of the ancient fauna were now filled by birds which
had discarded flight and developed pedestrian habits. Insects, almost
exterminated by the great conflagration, had afterwards increased so
rapidly, and had refashioned their types with such versatility, that
they soon reached almost to their ancient profusion. Even more rapid
was the establishment of the new micro-organisms. In general, among
all the beasts and plants of the earth there was a great change of
habit, and a consequent overlaying of old body-forms with new forms
adapted to a new way of life.

The two human settlements had fared very differently. That of
Labrador, oppressed by a more sweltering climate, and unsupported by
the Siberian will to preserve human culture, sank into animality; but
ultimately it peopled the whole West with swarming tribes. The human
beings in Asia remained a mere handful throughout the ten million
years of the Second Dark Age. An incursion of the sea cut them off
from the south. The old Taimyr Peninsula, where their settlements
clustered, became the northern promontory of an island whose coasts
were the ancient valley-edges of the Yenessi, the Lower Tunguska and
the Lena. As the climate became less oppressive, the families spread
toward the southern coast of the island, but the sea checked them.
Temperate conditions enabled them to regain a certain degree of
culture. But they had no longer the capacity to profit much from the
new clemency of nature, for the previous ages of tropical conditions
had undermined them. Moreover, toward the end of the ten million years
of the Second Dark Age, the Arctic climate spread south into their
island. Their crops failed, the rodents that formed their chief cattle
dwindled, their few herds of deer faded out through lack of food.
Little by little this scanty human race degenerated into a mere
remnant of Arctic savages. And so they remained for a million years.
Psychologically they were so crippled that they had almost completely
lost the power of innovation. When their sacred quarries in the hills
were covered with ice, they had not the wit to use stone from the
valleys, but were reduced to making implements of bone. Their language
degenerated into a few grunts to signify important acts, and a more
complex system of emotional expressions. For emotionally these
creatures still preserved a certain refinement. Moreover, though they
had almost wholly lost the power of intelligent innovation, their
instinctive responses were often such as a more enlightened
intelligence would justify. They were strongly social, deeply
respectful of the individual human life, deeply parental, and often
terribly earnest in their religion.

Not till long after the rest of the planet was once more covered with
life, not till nearly ten million years after the Patagonian disaster,
did a group of these savages, adrift on an iceberg, get blown
southward across the sea to the mainland of Asia. Luckily, for Arctic
conditions were increasing, and in time the islanders were
extinguished.

The survivors settled in the new land and spread, century by century,
into the heart of Asia. Their increase was very slow, for they were an
infertile and inflexible race. But conditions were now extremely
favourable. The climate was temperate; for Russia and Europe were now
a shallow sea warmed by currents from the Atlantic. There were no
dangerous animals save the small grey bears, an offshoot from the
polar species, and the large wolf-like foxes. Various kinds of rodents
and deer provided meat in plenty. There were birds of all sizes and
habits. Timber, fruit, wild grains and other nourishing plants throve
on the well-watered volcanic soil. The prolonged eruptions, moreover,
had once more enriched the upper layers of the rocky crust with
metals.

A few hundred thousand years in this new world sufficed for the human
species to increase from a handful of individuals to a swarm of races.
It was in the conflict and interfusion of these races, and also
through the absorption of certain chemicals from the new volcanic
soil, that humanity at last recovered its vitality.



CHAPTER VII. THE RISE OF THE SECOND MEN


1. THE APPEARANCE OF A NEW SPECIES


It was some ten million years after the Patagonian disaster that the
first elements of a few human species appeared, in an epidemic of
biological variations, many of which were extremely valuable. Upon
this raw material the new and stimulating environment worked for some
hundred thousand years until at last there appeared the Second Men.

Though of greater stature and more roomy cranium, these beings were
not wholly unlike their predecessors in general proportions. Their
heads, indeed, were large even for their bodies, and their necks
massive. Their hands were huge, but finely moulded. Their almost
titanic size entailed a seemingly excessive strength of support; their
legs were stouter, even proportionately, than the legs of the earlier
species. Their feet had lost the separate toes, and, by a
strengthening and growing together of the internal bones, had become
more efficient instruments of locomotion. During the Siberian exile
the First Men had acquired a thick hairy covering, and most races of
the Second Men retained something of this blonde hirsute appearance
throughout their career. Their eyes were large, and often jade green,
their features firm as carved granite, yet mobile and lucent. Of the
second human species one might say that Nature had at last repeated
and far excelled the noble but unfortunate type which she had achieved
once, long ago, with the first species, in certain pre-historic
cave-dwelling hunters and artists.

Inwardly the Second Men differed from the earlier species in that they
had shed most of those primitive relics which had hampered the First
Men more than was realized. Not only were they free of appendix,
tonsils and other useless excrescences, but also their whole structure
was more firmly knit into unity. Their chemical organization was such
that their tissues were kept in better repair. Their teeth, though
proportionately small and few, were almost completely immune from
caries. Such was their glandular equipment that puberty did not begin
till twenty; and not till they were fifty did they reach maturity. At
about one hundred and ninety their powers began to fail, and after a
few years of contemplative retirement they almost invariably died
before true senility could begin. It was as though, when a man's work
was finished, and he had meditated in peace upon his whole career,
there were nothing further to hold his attention and prevent him from
falling asleep. Mothers carried the foetus for three years, suckled
the infant for five years, and were sterile during this period and for
another seven years. Their climacteric was reached at about a hundred
and sixty. Architecturally massive like their mates, they would have
seemed to the First Men very formidable titanesses; but even those
early half-human beings would have admired the women of the second
species both for their superb vitality and for their brilliantly human
expression.

In temperament the Second Men were curiously different from the
earlier species. The same factors were present, but in different
proportions, and in far greater subordination to the considered will
of the individual. Sexual vigour had returned. But sexual interest was
strangely altered. Around the ancient core of delight in physical and
mental contact with the opposite sex there now appeared a kind of
innately sublimated, and no less poignant, appreciation of the unique
physical and mental forms of all kinds of live things. It is difficult
for less ample natures to imagine this expansion of the innate sexual
interest; for to them it is not apparent that the lusty admiration
which at first directs itself solely on the opposite sex is the
appropriate attitude to all the beauties of flesh and spirit in beast
and bird and plant. Parental interest also was strong in the new
species, but it too was universalized. It had become a strong innate
interest in, and a devotion to, all beings that were conceived as in
need of help. In the earlier species this passionate spontaneous
altruism occurred only in exceptional persons. In the new species,
however, all normal men and women experienced altruism as a passion.
And yet at the same time primitive parenthood had become tempered to a
less possessive and more objective love, which among the First Men was
less common than they themselves were pleased to believe.
Assertiveness had also greatly changed. Formerly very much of a man's
energy had been devoted to the assertion of himself as a private
individual over against other individuals; and very much of his
generosity had been at bottom selfish. But in the Second Men this
competitive self-assertion, this championship of the most intimately
known animal against all others, was greatly tempered. Formerly the
major enterprises of society would never have been carried through had
they not been able to annex to themselves the egoism of their
champions. But in the Second Men the parts were reversed. Few
individuals could ever trouble to exert themselves to the last ounce for
merely private ends, save when those ends borrowed interest or import
from some public enterprise. It was only his vision of a world-wide
community of persons, and of his own function therein, that could rouse
the fighting spirit in a man. Thus it was inwardly, rather than in
outward physical characters, that the Second Men differed from the
First. And in nothing did they differ more than in their native aptitude
for cosmopolitanism. They had their tribes and nations. War was not
quite unknown amongst them. But even in primitive times a man's most
serious loyalty was directed toward the race as a whole; and wars were
so hampered by impulses of kindliness toward the enemy that they were
apt to degenerate into rather violent athletic contests, leading to an
orgy of fraternization.

It would not be true to say that the strongest interest of these
beings was social. They were never prone to exalt the abstraction
called the state, or the nation, or even the world-commonwealth. For
their most characteristic factor was not mere gregariousness but
something novel, namely an innate interest in personality, both in the
actual diversity of persons and in the ideal of personal development.
They had a remarkable power of vividly intuiting their fellows as
unique persons with special needs. Individuals of the earlier species
had suffered from an almost insurmountable spiritual isolation from
one another. Not even lovers, and scarcely even the geniuses with
special insight into personality, ever had anything like accurate
vision of one another. But the Second Men, more intensely and
accurately self-conscious, were also more intensely and accurately
conscious of one another. This they achieved by no unique faculty, but
solely by a more ready interest in each other, a finer insight, and a
more active imagination.

They had also a remarkable innate interest in the higher kinds of
mental activity, or rather in the subtle objects of those activities.
Even children were instinctively inclined toward a genuinely aesthetic
interest in their world and their own behaviour, and also toward
scientific inquiry and generalization. Small boys, for instance, would
delight in collecting not merely such things as eggs or crystals, but
mathematical formulae expressive of the different shapes of eggs and
crystals, or of the innumerable rhythms of shells, fronds, leaflets,
grass-nodes. And there was a wealth of traditional fairy-stories whose
appeal was grounded in philosophical puzzles. Little children
delighted to hear how the poor things called Illusions were banished
from the Country of the Real, how one-dimensional Mr. Line woke up in
a two-dimensional world, and how a brave young tune slew cacophonous
beasts and won a melodious bride in that strange country where the
landscape is all of sound and all living things are music. The First
Men had attained to interest in science, mathematics, philosophy, only
after arduous schooling, but in the Second Men there was a natural
propensity for these activities, no less vigorous than the primitive
instincts. Not, of course, that they were absolved from learning; but
they had the same zest and facility in these matters as their
predecessors had enjoyed only in humbler spheres.

In the earlier species, indeed, the nervous system had maintained only
a very precarious unity, and was all too liable to derangement by the
rebellion of one of its subordinate parts. But in the second species
the highest centres maintained an almost absolute harmony among the
lower. Thus the moral conflict between momentary impulse and
considered will, and again between private and public interest, played
a very subordinate part among the Second Men.

In actual cognitive powers, also, this favoured species far
outstripped its predecessor. For instance, vision had greatly
developed. The Second Men distinguished in the spectrum a new primary
colour between green and blue; and beyond blue they saw, not a reddish
blue, but again a new primary colour, which faded with increasing
ruddiness far into the old ultraviolet. These two new primary colours
were complementary to one another. At the other end of the spectrum
they saw the infra-red as a peculiar purple. Further, owing to the
very great size of their retina, and the multiplication of rods and
cones, they discriminated much smaller fractions of their field of
vision.

Improved discrimination combined with a wonderful fertility of mental
imagery to produce a greatly increased power of insight into the
character of novel situations. Whereas among the First Men, native
intelligence had increased only up to the age of fourteen, among the
Second Men it progressed up to forty. Thus an average adult was
capable of immediate insight into problems which even the most
brilliant of the First Men could only solve by prolonged reasoning.
This superb clarity of mind enabled the second species to avoid most
of those age-long confusions and superstitions which had crippled its
predecessor. And along with great intelligence went a remarkable
flexibility of will. In fact the Second Men were far more able than
the First to break habits that were seen to be no longer justified.

To sum the matter, circumstance had thrown up a very noble species.
Essentially it was of the same type as the earlier species, but it had
undergone extensive improvements. Much that the First Men could only
achieve by long schooling and self-discipline the Second Men performed
with effortless fluency and delight. In particular, two capacities
which for the First Men had been unattainable ideals were now realized
in every normal individual, namely the power of wholly dispassionate
cognition, and the power of loving one's neighbour as oneself, without
reservation. Indeed, in this respect the Second Men might be called
"Natural Christians," so readily and constantly did they love one
another in the manner of Jesus, and infuse their whole social policy
with loving-kindness. Early in their career they conceived the
religion of love, and they were possessed by it again and again, in
diverse forms, until their end. On the other hand, their gift of
dispassionate cognition helped them to pass speedily to the admiration
of fate. And being by nature rigorous thinkers, they were peculiarly
liable to be disturbed by the conflict between their religion of love
and their loyalty to fate.

Well might it seem that the stage was now set for a triumphant and
rapid progress of the human spirit. But though the second human
species constituted a real improvement on the first, it lacked certain
faculties without which the next great mental advance could not be
made.

Moreover its very excellence involved one novel defect from which the
First Men were almost wholly free. In the lives of humble individuals
there are many occasions when nothing but an heroic effort can wrest
their private fortunes from stagnation or decline, and set them
pioneering in new spheres. Among the First Men this effort was often
called forth by passionate regard for self. And it was upon the tidal
wave of innumerable egoisms, blindly surging in one direction, that
the first species was carried forward. But, to repeat, in the Second
Men self-regard was never an over-mastering motive. Only at the call
of social loyalty or personal love would a man spur himself to
desperate efforts. Whenever the stake appeared to be mere private
advancement, he was apt to prefer peace to enterprise, the delights of
sport, companionship, art or intellect, to the slavery of self-regard.
And so in the long run, though the Second Men were fortunate in their
almost complete immunity from the lust of power and personal
ostentation (which cursed the earlier species with industrialism and
militarism), and though they enjoyed long ages of idyllic peace, often
upon a high cultural plane, their progress toward full self-conscious
mastery of the planet was curiously slow.


2. THE INTERCOURSE OF THREE SPECIES


In a few thousand years the new species filled the region from
Afghanistan to the China Sea, overran India, and penetrated far into
the new Australasian continent. Its advance was less military than
cultural. The remaining tribes of the First Men, with whom the new
species could not normally interbreed, were unable to live up to the
higher culture that flooded round them and over them. They faded out.

For some further thousands of years the Second Men remained as noble
savages, then passed rapidly through the pastoral into the
agricultural stage. In this era they sent an expedition across the new
and gigantic Hindu Kush to explore Africa. Here it was that they came
upon the subhuman descendants of the ship's crew that had sailed from
Siberia millions of years earlier. These animals had spread south
through America and across the new Atlantic Isthmus into Africa.

Dwarfed almost to the knees of the superior species, bent so that as
often as not they used their arms as aids to locomotion, flat-headed
and curiously long-snouted, these creatures were by now more
baboon-like than human. Yet in the wild state they maintained a very
complicated organization into castes, based on the sense of smell.
Their powers of scent, indeed, had developed at the expense of their
intelligence. Certain odours, which had become sacred through their
very repulsiveness, were given off only by individuals having certain
diseases. Such individuals were treated with respect by their fellows;
and though, in fact, they were debilitated by their disease, they were
so feared that no healthy individual dared resist them. The
characteristic odours were themselves graded in nobility, so that
those individuals who bore only the less repulsive perfume, owed
respect to those in whom a widespread rotting of the body occasioned
the most nauseating stench. These plagues had the special effect of
stimulating reproductive activity; and this fact was one cause both of
the respect felt for them, and of the immense fertility of the
species, such a fertility that, in spite of plagues and obtuseness, it
had flooded two continents. For though the plagues were fatal, they
were slow to develop. Further, though individuals far advanced in
disease were often incapable of feeding themselves, they profited by
the devotion of the healthy, who were well-pleased if they also became
infected.

But the most startling fact about these creatures was that many of
them had become enslaved to another species. When the Second Men had
penetrated further into Africa they came to a forest region where
companies of diminutive monkeys resisted their intrusion. It was soon
evident that any interference with the imbecile and passive sub-humans
in this district was resented by the monkeys. And as the latter made
use of a primitive kind of bow and poisoned arrows, their opposition
was seriously inconvenient to the invaders. The use of weapons and
other tools, and a remarkable co-ordination in warfare, made it clear
that in intelligence this simian species had far outstripped all
creatures save man. Indeed, the Second Men were now face to face with
the only terrestrial species which ever evolved so far as to compete
with man in versatility and practical shrewdness.

As the invaders advanced, the monkeys were seen to round up whole
flocks of the sub-men and drive them out of reach. It was noticed also
that these domesticated sub-men were wholly free from the diseases
that infected their wild kinsfolk, who on this account greatly
despised the healthy drudges. Later it transpired that the sub-men
were trained as beasts of burden by the monkeys and that their flesh
was a much relished article of diet. An arboreal city of woven
branches was discovered, and was apparently in course of construction,
for the sub-men were dragging timber and hauling it aloft, goaded by
the bone-headed spears of the monkeys. It was evident also that the
authority of the monkeys was maintained less by force than by
intimidation. They anointed themselves with the juice of a rare
aromatic plant, which struck terror into their poor cattle, and
reduced them to abject docility.

Now the invaders were only a handful of pioneers. They had come over
the mountains in search of metals, which had been brought to the
earth's surface during the volcanic era. An amiable race, they felt no
hostility toward the monkeys, but rather amusement at their habits and
ingenuity. But the monkeys resented the mere presence of these
mightier beings; and, presently collecting in the tree-tops in
thousands, they annihilated the party with their poisoned arrows. One
man alone escaped into Asia. In a couple of years he returned, with a
host. Yet this was no punitive expedition, for the bland Second Men
were strangely lacking in resentment. Establishing themselves on the
outskirts of the forest region, they contrived to communicate and
barter with the little people of the trees, so that after a while they
were allowed to enter the territory unmolested, and begin their great
metallurgical survey.

A close study of the relations of these very different intelligences
would be enlightening, but we have no time for it. Within their own
sphere the monkeys showed perhaps a quicker wit than the men; but only
within very narrow limits did their intelligence work at all. They
were deft at finding new means for the better satisfaction of their
appetites. But they wholly lacked self-criticism. Upon a normal outfit
of instinctive needs they had developed many acquired, traditional
cravings, most of which were fantastic and harmful. The Second Men, on
the other hand, though often momentarily outwitted by the monkeys,
were in the long run incomparably more able and more sane.

The difference between the two species is seen clearly in their
reaction to metals. The Second Men sought metal solely for the
carrying on of an already well-advanced civilization. But the monkeys,
when for the first time they saw the bright ingots, were fascinated.
They had already begun to hate the invaders for their native
superiority and their material wealth; and now this jealousy combined
with primitive acquisitiveness to make the slabs of copper and tin
become in their eyes symbols of power. In order to remain unmolested
in their work, the invaders had paid a toll of the wares of their own
country, of baskets, pottery and various specially designed miniature
tools. But at the sight of the crude metal, the monkeys demanded a
share of this noblest product of their own land. This was readily
granted, since it did away with the need of bringing goods from Asia.
But the monkeys had no real use for metal. They merely hoarded it, and
became increasingly avaricious. No one had respect among them who did
not laboriously carry a great ingot about with him wherever he went.
And after a while it came to be considered actually indecent to be
seen without a slab of metal. In conversation between the sexes this
symbol of refinement was always held so as to conceal the genitals.

The more metal the monkeys acquired the more they craved. Blood was
often shed in disputes over the possession of hoards. But this
internecine strife gave place at length to a concerted movement to
prevent the whole export of metal from their land. Some even suggested
that the ingots in their possession should be used for making more
effective weapons, with which to expel the invaders. This policy was
rejected, not merely because there were none who could work up the
crude metal, but because it was generally agreed that to put such a
sacred material to any kind of service would be base.

The will to be rid of the invader was augmented by a dispute about the
sub-men. These abject beings were treated very harshly by their
masters. Not only were they overworked, but also they were tortured in
cold blood, not precisely through lust in cruelty, but through a queer
sense of humour, or delight in the incongruous. For instance, it
afforded the monkeys a strangely innocent and extravagant pleasure to
compel these cattle to carry on their work in an erect posture, which
was by now quite unnatural to them, or to eat their own excrement or
even their own young. If ever these tortures roused some exceptional
sub-man to rebel, the monkeys flared into contemptuous rage at such a
lack of humour, so incapable were they of realizing the subjective
processes of others. To one another they could, indeed, be kindly and
generous; but even among themselves the imp of humour would sometimes
run riot. In any matter in which an individual was misunderstood by
his fellows, he was sure to be gleefully baited, and often harried to
death. But in the main it was only the slave-species that suffered.

The invaders were outraged by this cruel imbecility, and ventured to
protest. To the monkeys the protest was unintelligible. What were
cattle for, but to be used in the service of superior beings?
Evidently, the monkeys thought, the invaders were after all lacking in
the finer capacities of mind, since they failed to appreciate the
beauty of the fantastic.

This and other causes of friction finally led the monkeys to conceive
a means of freeing themselves for ever. The Second Men had proved to
be terribly liable to the diseases of their wretched sub-human
kinsfolk. Only by very rigorous quarantine had they stamped out the
epidemic that had revealed this fact. Now partly for revenge, but
partly also through malicious delight in the topsy-turvy, the monkeys
determined to make use of this human weakness. There was a certain
nut, very palatable to both taco and monkeys, which grew in a remote
part of the country. The monkeys had already begun to barter this nut
for extra metal; and the pioneering Second Men were arranging to send
caravans laden with nuts into their own country. In this situation the
monkeys found their opportunity. They carefully infected large
quantities of nuts with the plagues rampant among those herds of
sub-men which had not been domesticated. Very soon caravans of infected
nuts were scattered over Asia. The effect upon a race wholly fresh to
these microbes was disastrous. Not only were the pioneering
settlements wiped out, but the bulk of the species also. The sub-men
themselves had become adjusted to the microbes, and even reproduced
more rapidly because of them. Not so the more delicately organized
species. They died off like autumn leaves. Civilization fell to
pieces. In a few generations Asia was peopled only by a handful of
scattered savages, all diseased and mostly crippled.

But in spite of this disaster the species remained potentially the
same. Within a few centuries it had thrown off the infection and had
begun once more the ascent toward civilization. After another thousand
years, pioneers again crossed the mountains and entered Africa. They
met with no opposition. The precarious flicker of simian intelligence
had long ago ceased. The monkeys had so burdened their bodies with
metal and their minds with the obsession of metal, that at length the
herds of sub-human cattle were able to rebel and devour their masters.


3. THE ZENITH OF THE SECOND MEN


For nearly a quarter of a million years the Second Men passed through
successive phases of prosperity and decline. Their advance to
developed culture was not nearly so steady and triumphal as might have
been expected from a race of such brilliance. As with individuals, so
with species, accidents are all too likely to defeat even the most
cautious expectations. For instance, the Second Men were for a long
time seriously hampered by a "glacial epoch" which at its height
imposed Arctic conditions even as far south as India. Little by little
the encroaching ice crowded their tribes into the extremity of that
peninsula, and reduced their culture to the level of the Esquimaux. In
time, of course, they recovered, but only to suffer other scourges, of
which the most devastating were epidemics of bacteria. The more
recently developed and highly organized tissues of this species were
peculiarly susceptible to disease, and not once but many times a
promising barbarian culture or "mediaeval" civilization was wiped out
by plagues.

But of all the natural disasters which befell the Second Men, the
worst was due to a spontaneous change in their own physical
constitution. Just as the fangs of the ancient sabre-toothed tiger had
finally grown so large that the beast could not eat, so the brain of
the second human species threatened to outgrow the rest of its body.
In a cranium that was originally roomy enough, this rare product of
nature was now increasingly cramped; while a circulatory system, that
was formerly quite adequate, was becoming more and more liable to fail
in pumping blood through so cramped a structure. These two causes at
last began to take serious effect. Congenital imbecility became
increasingly common, along with all manner of acquired mental
diseases. For some thousands of years the race remained in a most
precarious condition, now almost dying out, now rapidly attaining an
extravagant kind of culture in some region where physical nature
happened to be peculiarly favourable. One of these precarious flashes
of spirit occurred in the Yang-tze valley as a sudden and brief
effulgence of city states peopled by neurotics, geniuses and
imbeciles. The lasting upshot of this civilization was a brilliant
literature of despair, dominated by a sense of the difference between
the actual and the potential in man and the universe. Later, when the
race had attained its noontide glory, it was wont to brood upon this
tragic voice from the past in order to remind itself of the underlying
horror of existence.

Meanwhile, brains became more and more overgrown, and the race more
and more disorganized. There is no doubt that it would have gone the
way of the sabre-toothed tiger, simply through the fatal direction of
its own physiological evolution, had not a more stable variety of this
second human species at last appeared. It was in North America, into
which, by way of Africa, the Second Men had long ago spread, that the
roomier-skulled and stronger-hearted type first occurred. By great good
fortune this new variety proved to be a dominant Mendelian character.
And as it interbred freely with the older variety, a superbly healthy
race soon peopled America. The species was saved.

But another hundred thousand years were to pass before the Second Men
could reach their zenith. I must not dwell on this movement of the
human symphony, though it is one of great richness. Inevitably many
themes are now repeated from the career of the earlier species, but
with special features, and transposed, so to speak, from the minor to
the major key. Once more primitive cultures succeed one another, or
pass into civilization, barbarian or "mediaeval"; and in turn these
fall or are transformed. Twice, indeed, the planet became the home of
a single world-wide community which endured for many thousands of
years, until misfortune wrecked it. The collapse is not altogether
surprising, for unlike the earlier species, the Second Men had no coal
and oil. In both these early world societies of the Second Men there
was a complete lack of mechanical power. Consequently, though
world-wide and intricate, they were in a manner "mediaeval." In every
continent intensive and highly skilled agriculture crept from the
valleys up the mountain sides and over the irrigated deserts. In the
rambling garden-cities each citizen took his share of drudgery,
practised also some fine handicraft, and yet had leisure for gaiety
and contemplation. Intercourse within and between the five great
continental communities had to be maintained by coaches, caravans and
sailing ships. Sail, indeed, now came back into its own, and far
surpassed its previous achievements. On every sea, fleets of great
populous red-sailed clippers, wooden, with carved poops and prows, but
with the sleek flanks of the dolphin carried the produce of every
land, and the many travellers who delighted to spend a sabbatical year
among foreigners.

So much, in the fullness of time, could be achieved, even without
mechanical power, by a species gifted with high intelligence and
immune from anti-social self-regard. But inevitably there came an end.
A virus, whose subtle derangement of the glandular system was never
suspected by a race still innocent of physiology, propagated
throughout the world a mysterious fatigue. Century by century,
agriculture withdrew from the hills and deserts, craftsmanship
deteriorated, thought became stereotyped. And the vast lethargy
produced a vast despond. At length the nations lost touch with one
another, forgot one another, forgot their culture, crumbled into
savage tribes. Once more Earth slept.

Many thousand years later, long after the disease was spent, several
great peoples developed in isolation. When at last they made contact,
they were so alien that in each there had to occur a difficult
cultural revolution, not unaccompanied by bloodshed, before the world
could once more feel as one. But this second world order endured only
a few centuries, for profound subconscious differences now made it
impossible for the races to keep whole-heartedly loyal to each other.
Religion finally severed the unity which all willed but none could
trust. An heroic nation of monotheists sought to impose its faith on a
vaguely pantheist world. For the first and last time the Second Men
stumbled into a world-wide civil war; and just because the war was
religious it developed a brutality hitherto unknown. With crude
artillery, but with fanaticism, the two groups of citizen armies
harried one another. The fields were laid waste, the cities burned,
the rivers, and finally the winds were poisoned. Long after that
pitch of horror had been passed, at which an inferior species would
have lost heart, these heroic madmen continued to organize
destruction. And when at last the inevitable breakdown came, it was
the more complete. In a sensitive species the devastating
enlightenment which at last began to invade every mind, the
overwhelming sense of treason against the human spirit, the tragic
comicality of the whole struggle, sapped all energy. Not for thousands
of years did the Second Men achieve once more a world-community. But
they had learnt their lesson.

The third and most enduring civilization of the Second Men repeated
the glorified mediaevalism of the first, and passed beyond it into a
phase of brilliant natural science. Chemical fertilizers increased the
crops, and therefore the world population. Wind and water-power was
converted into electricity to supplement human and animal labour. At
length, after many failures, it became possible to use volcanic and
subterranean energy to drive dynamos. In a few years the whole
physical character of civilization was transformed. Yet in this
headlong passage into industrialism the Second Men escaped the errors
of ancient Europe, America and Patagonia. This was due partly to their
greater gift of sympathy, which, save during the one great aberration
of the religious war, made them all in a very vivid manner members one
of another. But partly also it was due to their combination of a
practical common sense that was more than British, with a more than
Russian immunity from the glamour of wealth, and a passion for the
life of the mind that even Greece had never known. Mining and
manufacture, even with plentiful electric power, were occupations
scarcely less arduous than of old; but since each individual was
implicated by vivid sympathy in the lives of all persons within his
ken, there was little or no obsession with private economic power. The
will to avoid industrial evils was effective, because sincere.

At its height, the culture of the Second Men was dominated by respect
for the individual human personality. Yet contemporary individuals
were regarded both as end and as means, as a stage toward far ampler
individuals in the remote future. For, although they themselves were
more long-lived than their predecessors, the Second Men were oppressed
by the brevity of human life, and the pettiness of the individual's
achievement in comparison with the infinity round about him which
awaited apprehension and admiration. Therefore they were determined to
produce a race endowed with much greater natural longevity. Again,
though they participated in one another far more than their
predecessors, they themselves were dogged by despair at the distortion
and error which spoiled every mind's apprehension of others. Like
their predecessors, they had passed through all the more na´ve phases
of self-consciousness and other-consciousness, and through
idealizations of various modes of personality. They had admired the
barbarian hero, the romantical, the sensitive-subtle, the bluff and
hearty, the decadent, the bland, the severe. And they had concluded
that each person, while being himself an expression of some one mode
of personality, should seek to be also sensitive to every other mode.
They even conceived that the ideal community should be knit into one
mind by each unique individual's direct telepathic apprehension of the
experience of all his fellows. And the fact that this ideal seemed
utterly unattainable wove through their whole culture a thread of
darkness, a yearning for spiritual union, a horror of loneliness,
which never seriously troubled their far more insulated predecessors.

This craving for union influenced the sexual life of the species. In
the first place, so closely was the mental related to the
physiological in their composition, that when there was no true union
of minds, the sexual act failed to give conception. Casual sexual
relations thus came to be regarded very differently from those which
expressed a deeper intimacy. They were treated as a delightful
embroidery on life, affording opportunity of much elegance,
light-hearted tenderness, banter, and of course physical inebriation; but
they were deemed to signify nothing more than the delight of friend in
friend. Where there was a marriage of minds, but then only during the
actual passion of communion, sexual intercourse almost always resulted
in conception. Under these circumstances, intimate persons had often
to practise contraception, but acquaintances never. And one of the
most beneficial inventions of the psychologists was a technique of
autosuggestion, which, at will, either facilitated conception, or
prevented it, surely, harmlessly, and without inaesthetic
accompaniments.

The sexual morality of the Second Men passed through all the phases
known to the First Men; but by the time that they had established a
single world-culture it had a form not known before. Not only were
both men and women encouraged to have as much casual sexual
intercourse as they needed for their enrichment, but also, on the
higher plane of spiritual union, strict monogamy was deprecated. For
in sexual union of this higher kind they saw a symbol of that
communion of minds which they longed to make universal. Thus the most
precious gift that a lover could bring to the beloved was not
virginity but sexual experience. The union, it was felt, was the more
pregnant the more each party could contribute from previous sexual and
spiritual intimacy with others. Yet though as a principle monogamy
was not applauded, the higher kind of union would in practice
sometimes result in a life-long partnership. But since the average
life was so much longer than among the First Men, such fortuitously
perennial unions were often deliberately interrupted for a while, by
a change of partners, and then restored with their vitality renewed.
Sometimes, on the other hand, a group of persons of both sexes would
maintain a composite and permanent marriage together. Sometimes such a
group would exchange a member, or members, with another group, or
disperse itself completely among other groups, to come together again
years afterwards with enriched experience. In one form or another,
this "marriage of groups" was much prized, as an extension of the
vivid sexual participation into an ampler sphere. Among the First Men
the brevity of life made these novel forms of union impossible; for
obviously no sexual, and no spiritual, relation can be developed with
any richness in less than thirty years of close intimacy. It would be
interesting to examine the social institutions of the Second Men at
their zenith; but we have not time to spare for this subject, nor even
for the brilliant intellectual achievements in which the species so
far outstripped its predecessor. Obviously any account of the natural
science and the philosophy of the Second Men would be unintelligible
to readers of this book. Suffice it that they avoided the errors which
had led the First Men into false abstraction, and into metaphysical
theories which were at once sophisticated and na´ve.

Not until after they had passed beyond the best work of the First Men
in science and philosophy did the Second Men discover the remains of
the great stone library in Siberia. A party of engineers happened upon
it while they were preparing to sink a shaft for subterranean energy.
The tablets were broken, disordered, weathered. Little by little,
however, they were reconstructed and interpreted, with the aid of the
pictorial dictionary. The finds were of extreme interest to the Second
Men, but not in the manner which the Siberian party had intended, not
as a store of scientific and philosophic truth, but as a vivid
historical document. The view of the universe which the tablets
recorded was both too na´ve and too artificial; but the insight which
they afforded into the mind of the earlier species was invaluable. So
little of the old world had survived the volcanic epoch that the
Second Men had failed hitherto to get a clear picture of their
predecessors.

One item alone in this archaeological treasure had more than
historical interest. The biologist leader of the little party in
Siberia had recorded much of the sacred text of the Life of the Divine
Boy. At the end of the record came the prophet's last words, which had
so baffled Patagonia. This theme was full of meaning for the Second
Men, as indeed it would have been even for the First Men in their
prime. But whereas for the First Men the dispassionate ecstasy which
the Boy had preached was rather an ideal than a fact of experience,
the Second Men recognized in the prophet's words an intuition familiar
to themselves. Long ago the tortured geniuses of the Yang-tze cities
had expressed this same intuition. Subsequently also it had often been
experienced by the more healthy generations, but always with a certain
shame. For it had become associated with morbid mentality. But now
with growing conviction that it was wholesome, the Second Men had
begun to grope for a wholesome expression of it. In the life and the
last words of the remote apostle of youth they found an expression
which was not wholly inadequate. The species was presently to be in
sore need of this gospel.

The world-community reached at length a certain relative perfection
and equilibrium. There was a long summer of social harmony,
prosperity, and cultural embellishment. Almost all that could be done
by mind in the stage to which it had then reached seemed to have been
done. Generations of long-lived, eager, and mutually delightful beings
succeeded one another. There was a widespread feeling that the time
had come for man to gather all his strength for a flight into some new
sphere of mentality. The present type of human being, it was
recognized, was but a rough and incoherent natural product. It was
time for man to take control of himself and remake himself upon a
nobler pattern. With this end in view, two great works were set afoot,
research into the ideal of human nature, and research into practical
means of remaking human nature. Individuals in all lands, living their
private lives, delighting in each other, keeping the tissue of society
alive and vigorous, were deeply moved by the thought that their world
community was at last engaged upon this heroic task.

But elsewhere in the solar system life of a very different kind was
seeking, in its own strange manner, ends incomprehensible to man, yet
at bottom identical with his own ends. And presently the two were to
come together, not in co-operation.



CHAPTER VIII. THE MARTIANS


1. THE FIRST MARTIAN INVASION


Upon the foot-hills of the new and titanic mountains that were once
the Hindu Kush, were many holiday centres, whence the young men and
women of Asia were wont to seek Alpine dangers and hardships for their
souls' refreshment. It was in this district, and shortly after a
summer dawn, that the Martians were first seen by men. Early walkers
noticed that the sky had an unaccountably greenish tinge, and that the
climbing sun, though free from cloud, was wan. Observers were
presently surprised to see the green concentrate itself into a
thousand tiny cloudlets, with clear blue between. Field-glasses
revealed within each fleck of green some faint hint of a ruddy
nucleus, and shifting strands of an infra-red colour, which would have
been invisible to the earlier human race. These extraordinary specks
of cloud were all of about the same size, the largest of them
appearing smaller than the moon's disk; but in form they varied
greatly, and were seen to be changing their shapes more rapidly than
the natural cirrus which they slightly resembled. In fact, though
there was much that was cloud-like in their form and motion, there was
also something definite about them, both in their features and
behaviour, which suggested life. Indeed they were strongly reminiscent
of primitive amoeboid organisms seen through a microscope.

The whole sky was strewn with them, here and there in concentrations
of unbroken green, elsewhere more sparsely. And they were observed to
be moving. A general drift of the whole celestial population was
setting toward one of the snowy peaks that dominated the landscape.
Presently the foremost individuals reached the mountain's crest, and
were seen to be creeping down the rock-face with a very slow amoeboid
action.

Meanwhile a couple of aeroplanes, electrically driven, had climbed the
sky to investigate the strange phenomenon at close quarters. They
passed among the drifting cloudlets, and actually through many of
them, without hindrance, and almost without being obscured from view.

On the mountain a vast swarm of the cloudlets was collecting, and
creeping down the precipices and snow-fields into a high glacier
valley. At a certain point, where the glacier dropped steeply to a
lower level, the advance guard slowed down and stopped, while hosts of
their fellows continued to pack in on them from behind. In half an
hour the whole sky was once more clear, save for normal clouds; but
upon the glacier lay what might almost have been an exceptionally dark
solid-looking thunder-cloud, save for its green tinge and seething
motion. For some minutes this strange object was seen to concentrate
itself into a somewhat smaller bulk and become darker. Then it moved
forward again, and passed over the cliffy end of the glacier into the
pine-clad valley. An intervening ridge now hid it from its first
observers.

Lower down the valley there was a village. Many of the inhabitants,
when they saw the mysterious dense fume advancing upon them, took to
their mechanical vehicles and fled; but some waited out of curiosity.
They were swallowed up in a murky olive-brown fog, shot here and there
with queer shimmering streaks of a ruddier tint. Presently there was
complete darkness. Artificial lights were blotted out almost at arm's
length. Breathing became difficult. Throats and lungs were irritated.
Every one was seized with a violent attack of sneezing and coughing.
The cloud streamed through the village, and seemed to exercise
irregular pressures upon objects, not always in the general direction
of movement but sometimes in the opposite direction, as though it were
getting a purchase upon human bodies and walls, and actually elbowing
its way along. Within a few minutes the fog lightened; and presently
it left the village behind it, save for a few strands and whiffs of
its smoke-like substance, which had become entangled in side-streets
and isolated. Very soon, however, these seemed to get themselves clear
and hurry to overtake the main body.

When the gasping villagers had somewhat recovered, they sent a radio
message to the little town lower down the valley, urging temporary
evacuation. The message was not broadcast, but transmitted on a
slender beam of rays. It so happened that the beam had to be directed
through the noxious matter itself. While the message was being given,
the cloud's progress ceased, and its outlines became vague and ragged.
Fragments of it actually drifted away on the winds and dissipated
themselves. Almost as soon as the message was completed, the cloud
began to define itself again, and lay for a quarter of an hour at
rest. A dozen bold young men from the town now approached the dark
mass out of curiosity. No sooner did they come face to face with it,
round a bend in the valley, than the cloud rapidly contracted, till it
was no bigger than a house. Looking now something between a dense,
opaque fume and an actual jelly, it lay still until the party had
ventured within a few yards. Evidently their courage failed, for they
were seen to turn. But before they had retreated three paces, a long
proboscis shot out of the main mass with the speed of a chameleon's
tongue, and enveloped them. Slowly it withdrew; but the young men had
been gathered in with it. The cloud, or jelly, churned itself
violently for some seconds, then ejected the bodies in a single chewed
lump.

The murderous thing now elbowed itself along the road toward the town,
leaned against the first house, crushed it, and proceeded to wander
hither and thither, pushing everything down before it, as though it
were a lava-stream. The inhabitants took to their heels, but several
were licked up and slaughtered.

Powerful beam radiation was now poured into the cloud from all the
neighbouring installations. Its destructive activity slackened, and
once more it began to disintegrate and expand. Presently it streamed
upwards as a huge column of smoke; and, at a great altitude, it
dissipated itself again into a swarm of the original green cloudlets,
noticeably reduced in numbers. These again faded into a uniform
greenish tinge, which gradually vanished.

Thus ended the first invasion of the Earth from Mars.


2. LIFE ON MARS


Our concern is with humanity, and with the Martians only in relation
to men. But in order to understand the tragic intercourse of the two
planets, it is necessary to glance at conditions on Mars, and conceive
something of those fantastically different yet fundamentally similar
beings, who were now seeking to possess man's home.

To describe the biology, psychology and history of a whole world in a
few pages is as difficult as it would be to give the Martians
themselves in the same compass a true idea of man. Encyclopaedias,
libraries, would be needed in either case. Yet, somehow, I must
contrive to suggest the alien sufferings and delights, and the many
aeons of struggle, which went to the making of these strange nonhuman
intelligences, in some ways so inferior yet in others definitely
superior to the human species which they encountered.

Mars was a world whose mass was about one-tenth that of the earth.
Gravity therefore had played a less tyrannical part in Martian than in
terrestrial history. The weakness of Martian gravity combined with the
paucity of the planet's air envelope to make the general atmospheric
pressure far lighter than on earth. Oxygen was far less plentiful.
Water also was comparatively rare. There were no oceans or seas, but
only shallow lakes and marshes, many of which dried up in summer. The
climate of the planet was in general very dry, and yet very cold.
Being without cloud, it was perennially bright with the feeble rays of
a distant sun.

Earlier in the history of Mars, when there were more air, more water,
and a higher temperature from internal heat, life had appeared in the
coastal waters of the seas, and evolution had proceeded in much the
same manner as on earth. Primitive life was differentiated into the
fundamental animal and vegetable types. Multicellular structures
appeared, and specialized themselves in diverse manners to suit
diverse environments. A great variety of plant forms clothed the
lands, often with forests of gigantic and slender-stemmed plumes.
Mollusc-like and insect-like animals crept or swam, or shot themselves
hither and thither in fantastic jumps. Huge spidery creatures of a
type not wholly unlike crustaceans, or gigantic grasshoppers, bounded
after their prey, and developed a versatility and cunning which
enabled them to dominate the planet almost as, at a much later date,
early man was to dominate the terrestrial wild.

But meanwhile a rapid loss of atmosphere, and especially of
water vapor, was changing Martian conditions beyond the limits of
adaptability of this early fauna and flora. At the same time a very
different kind of vital organization was beginning to profit by the
change. On Mars, as on the Earth, life had arisen from one of many
"subvital" forms. The new type of life on Mars evolved from another of
these subvital kinds of molecular organization, one which had hitherto
failed to evolve at all, and had played an insignificant part, save
occasionally as a rare virus in the respiratory organs of animals.
These fundamental subvital units of organization were ultra-microscopic,
and indeed far smaller than the terrestrial bacteria, or
even the terrestrial viruses. They originally occurred in the marshy
ponds, which dried up every spring, and became depressions of baked
mud and dust. Certain of their species, borne into the air upon dust
particles, developed an extremely dry habit of life. They maintained
themselves by absorbing chemicals from the wind borne dust, and a very
slight amount of moisture from the air. Also they absorbed sunlight by
a photo-synthesis almost identical with that of the Plants.

To this extent they were similar to the other living things, but they
had also certain capacities which the other stock had lost at the very
outset of its evolutionary career. Terrestrial organisms, and Martian
organisms of the terrestrial type, maintained themselves as vital
unities by means of nervous systems, or other forms of material
contact between parts. In the most developed forms, an immensely
complicated neural "telephone" system connected every part of the body
with a vast central exchange, the brain. Thus on the earth a single
organism was without exception a continuous system of matter, which
maintained a certain constancy of form. But from the distinctively
Martian subvital unit there evolved at length a very different kind of
complex organism, in which material contact of parts was not necessary
either to coordination of behaviour or unity of consciousness. These
ends were achieved upon a very different physical basis. The
ultra-microscopic subvital members were sensitive to all kinds of etherial
vibrations, directly sensitive, in a manner impossible to terrestrial
life; and they could also initiate vibrations. Upon this basis Martian
life developed at length the capacity of maintaining vital
organization as a single conscious individual without continuity of
living matter. Thus the typical Martian organism was a cloudlet, a
group of free-moving members dominated by a "group-mind." But in one
species individuality came to inhere, for certain purposes, not in
distinct cloudlets only, but in a great fluid system of cloudlets.
Such was the single-minded Martian host which invaded the Earth.

The Martian organism depended, so to speak, not on "telephone" wires,
but on an immense crowd of mobile "wireless stations," transmitting
and receiving different wave-lengths according to their function. The
radiation of a single unit was of course very feeble; but a great
system of units could maintain contact with its wandering parts over a
considerable distance.

One other important characteristic distinguished the dominant form of
life on Mars. Just as a cell, in the terrestrial form of life, has
often the power of altering its shape (whence the whole mechanism of
muscular activity), so in the Martian form the free-floating
ultra-microscopic unit might be specialized for generating around itself
a magnetic field, and so either repelling or attracting its neighbours.
Thus a system of materially disconnected units had a certain cohesion.
Its consistency was something between a smoke-cloud and a very tenuous
jelly. It had a definite, though ever-changing contour and resistant
surface. By massed mutual repulsions of its constituent units it could
exercise pressure on surrounding objects; and in its most concentrated
form the Martian cloud-jelly could bring to bear immense forces which
could also be controlled for very delicate manipulation. Magnetic
forces were also responsible for the mollusc-like motion of the cloud
as a whole over the ground, and again for the transport of lifeless
material and living units from region to region within the cloud.

The magnetic field of repulsion and attraction generated by a subvital
unit was much more restricted than its field of "wireless"
communication. Similarly with organized systems of units. Thus each of
the cloudlets which the Second Men saw in their sky was an independent
motor unit; but also it was in a kind of "telepathic" communication
with all its fellows. Indeed in every public enterprise, such as the
terrestrial campaigns, almost perfect unity of consciousness was
maintained within the limits of a huge field of radiation. Yet only
when the whole population concentrated itself into a small and
relatively dense cloud-jelly, did it become a single magnetic motor
unit. The Martians, it should be noted, had three possible forms, or
formations, namely: first, an "open order" of independent and very
tenuous cloudlets in "telepathic" communication, and often in strict
unity as a group mind; second, a more concentrated and less vulnerable
corporate cloud; and third, an extremely concentrated and formidable
cloud-jelly.

Save for these very remarkable characteristics, there was no really
fundamental difference between the distinctively Martian and the
distinctively terrestrial forms of life. The chemical basis of the
former was somewhat more complicated than that of the latter; and
selenium played a part in it, to which nothing corresponded in
terrestrial life. The Martian organism, moreover, was unique in that
it fulfilled within itself the functions of both animal and vegetable.
But, save for these peculiarities, the two types of life were
biochemically much the same. Both needed material from the ground,
both needed sunlight. Each lived in the chemical changes occurring in
its own "flesh." Each, of course, tended to maintain itself as an
organic unity. There was a certain difference, indeed, in respect of
reproduction; for the Martian subvital units retained the power of
growth and sub-division. Thus the birth of a Martian cloud arose from
the sub-division of myriads of units within the parent cloud, followed
by their ejection as a new individual. And, as the units were highly
specialized for different functions, representatives of many types had
to pass into the new cloud.

In the earliest stages of evolution on Mars the units had become
independent of each other as soon as they parted in reproduction. But
later the hitherto useless and rudimentary power of emitting radiation
was specialized, so that, after reproduction, free individuals came to
maintain radiant contact with one another, and to behave with
ever-increasing coordination. Still later, these organized groups
themselves maintained radiant contact with groups of their offspring,
thus constituting larger individuals with specialized members. With
each advance in complexity the sphere of radiant influence increased;
until, at the zenith of Martian evolution, the whole planet (save for
the remaining animal and vegetable representatives of the other and
unsuccessful kind of life) constituted sometimes a single biological
and psychological individual. But this occurred as a rule only in
respect of matters which concerned the species as a whole. At most
times the Martian individual was a cloudlet, such as those which first
astonished the Second Men. But in great public crises each cloudlet
would suddenly wake up to find himself the mind of the whole race,
sensing through many individuals, and interpreting his sensations in
the light of the experience of the whole race.

The life which dominated Mars was thus something between an extremely
well-disciplined army of specialized units, and a body possessed by
one mind. Like an army, it could take any form without destroying its
organic unity. Like an army it was sometimes a crowd of free-wandering
units, yet at other times also it disposed itself in very special
orders to fulfil special functions. Like an army it was composed of
free, experiencing individuals who voluntarily submitted themselves to
discipline. On the other hand, unlike an army, it woke occasionally
into unified consciousness.

The same fluctuation between individuality and multiplicity which
characterized the race as a whole, characterized also each of the
cloudlets themselves. Each was sometimes an individual, sometimes a
swarm of more primitive individuals. But while the race rather seldom
rose to full individuality, the cloudlets declined from it only in
very special circumstances. Each cloudlet was an organization of
specialized groups formed of minor specialized groups, which in turn
were composed of the fundamental specialized varieties of subvital
units. Each free-roving group of free-roving units constituted a
special organ, fulfilling some particular function in the whole. Thus
some were specialized for attraction and repulsion, some for chemical
operations, some for storing the sun's energy, some for emitting
radiation, some for absorbing and storing water, some for special
sensitivities, such as awareness of mechanical pressure and vibration,
or temperature changes, or light rays. Others again were specialized
to fulfil the function of the brain of man; but in a peculiar manner.
The whole volume of the cloudlet vibrated with innumerable "wireless"
messages in very many wave-lengths from the different "organs." It was
the function of the "brain" units to receive, and correlate, and
interpret these messages in the light of past experience, and to
initiate responses in the wave-lengths appropriate to the organs
concerned.

All these subvital units, save a few types that were too highly
specialized, were capable of independent life as air-borne bacteria
or viruses. And whenever they lost touch with the radiation of the
whole system, they continued to live their own simple lives until they
were once more controlled. All were free-floating units, but normally
they were under the influence of the cloudlet's system of
electro-magnetic fields, and were directed hither and thither for their
special functions. And under this influence some of them might be held
rigidly in position in relation to one another. Such was the case of
the organs of sight. In early stages of evolution, some of the units
had specialized for carrying minute globules of water. Later, much
larger droplets were carried, millions of units holding between them a
still microscopic globule of life's most precious fluid. Ultimately
this function was turned to good account in vision. Aqueous lenses as
large as the eye of an ox, were supported by a scaffolding of units;
while, at focal length from the lens, a rigid retina of units was held
in position. Thus the Martian could produce eyes of every variety
whenever he wanted them, and telescopes and microscopes too. This
production and manipulation of visual organs was of course largely
subconscious, like the focussing mechanism in man. But latterly the
Martians had greatly increased their conscious control of
physiological processes; and it was this achievement which facilitated
their remarkable optical triumphs.

One other physiological function we must note before considering the
Martian psychology. The fully evolved, but as yet uncivilized, Martian
had long ago ceased to depend for his chemicals on wind borne volcanic
dust. Instead, he rested at night on the ground, like a knee-high mist
on terrestrial meadows, and projected specialized tubular groups of
units into the soil, like rootlets. Part of the day also had to be
occupied in this manner. Somewhat later this process was supplemented
by devouring the declining plant-life of the planet. But the final
civilized Martians had greatly improved their methods of exploiting
the ground and the sunlight, both by mechanical means and by
artificial specialization of their own organs. Even so, however, as
their activities increased, these vegetable functions became an ever
more serious problem for them. They practised agriculture; but only a
very small area of the arid planet could be induced to bear. It was
terrestrial water and terrestrial vegetation that finally determined
them to make the great voyage.


3. THE MARTIAN MIND


The Martian mind was of a very different type from the terrestrial,--
different, yet at bottom identical. In so strange a body, the mind was
inevitably equipped with alien cravings, and alien manners of
apprehending its environment. And with so different a history, it was
confused by prejudices very unlike those of man. Yet it was none the
less mind, concerned in the last resort with the maintenance and
advancement of life, and the exercise of vital capacities.
Fundamentally the Martian was like all other living beings, in that he
delighted in the free working of his body and his mind. Yet
superficially, he was as unlike man in mind as in body.

The most distinctive feature of the Martian, compared with man, was
that his individuality was both far more liable to disruption, and at
the same time immeasurably more capable of direct participation in the
minds of other individuals. The human mind in its solid body
maintained its unity and its dominance over its members in all normal
circumstances. Only in disease was man liable to mental or physical
dissociation. On the other hand, he was incapable of direct contact
with other individuals, and the emergence of a "super-mind" in a group
of individuals was quite impossible. The Martian cloudlet, however,
though he fell to pieces physically, and also mentally, far more
readily than a man, might also at any moment wake up to be the
intelligent mind of his race, might begin to perceive with the
sense-organs of all other individuals, and experience thoughts and desires
which were, so to speak, the resultant of all individual thoughts and
desires upon some matter of general interest. But unfortunately, as I
shall tell, the common mind of the Martians never woke into any order
of mentality higher than that of the individual.

These differences between the Martian and the human psyche entailed
characteristic advantages and disadvantages. The Martian, immune from
man's inveterate selfishness and spiritual isolation from his fellows,
lacked the mental coherence, the concentrated attention and far-reaching
analysis and synthesis, and again the vivid self-consciousness and
relentless self-criticism, which even the First Men, at their best, had
attained in some degree, and which in the Second Men were still more
developed. The Martians, moreover, were hampered by being almost
identical in character. They possessed perfect harmony; but only through
being almost wholly in temperamental unison. They were all hobbled by
their sameness to one another. They were without that rich diversity of
personal character, which enabled the human spirit to cover so wide a
field of mentality. This infinite variety of human nature entailed,
indeed, endless wasteful and cruel personal conflicts in the first, and
even to some extent in the second, species of man; but also it enabled
every individual of developed sympathy to enrich his spirit by
intercourse with individuals whose temperament, thought and ideals
differed from his own. And while the Martians were little troubled by
internecine strife and the passion of hate, they were also almost wholly
devoid of the passion of love. The Martian individual could admire, and
be utterly faithful to, the object of his loyalty; but his admiration
was given, not to concrete and uniquely charactered persons of the same
order as himself, but at best to the vaguely conceived "spirit of the
race." Individuals like himself he regarded merely as instruments or
organs of the "super-mind."

This would not have been amiss, had the mind of the race, into which
he so frequently awoke under the influence of the general radiation,
been indeed a mind of higher rank than his own. But it was not. It was
but a pooling of the percipience and thought and will of the
cloudlets. Thus it was that the superb loyalty of the Martians was
squandered upon something which was not greater than themselves in
mental calibre, but only in mere bulk.

The Martian cloudlet, like the human animal, had a complex instinctive
nature. By night and day, respectively, he was impelled to perform the
vegetative functions of absorbing chemicals from the ground and energy
from the sunlight. Air and water he also craved, though he dealt with
them, of course, in his own manner. He had also his own characteristic
instinctive impulses to move his "body," both for locomotion and
manipulation. Martian civilization provided an outlet for these
cravings, both in the practice of agriculture and in intricate and
wonderfully beautiful cloud-dances and gymnastics. For these perfectly
supple beings rejoiced in executing aerial evolutions, flinging out
wild rhythmical streamers, intertwining with one another in spirals,
concentrating into opaque spheres, cubes, cones, and all sorts of
fantastical volumes. Many of these movements and shapes had intense
emotional significance for them in relation to the operations of their
life, and were executed with a religious fervour and solemnity.

The Martian had also his impulses of fear and pugnacity. In the remote
past these had often been directed against hostile members of his own
species; but since the race had become unified, they found exercise
only upon other types of life and upon inanimate nature. Instinctive
gregariousness was, of course, extremely developed in the Martian at
the expense of instinctive self-assertion. Sexuality the Martian had
not; there were no partners in reproduction. But his impulse to merge
physically and mentally with other individuals, and wake up as the
super-mind, had in it much that was characteristic of sex in man.
Parental impulses, of a kind, he knew; but they were scarcely worthy
of the name. He cared only to eject excessive living matter from his
system, and to keep _en rapport_ with the new individual thus formed,
as he would with any other individual. He knew no more of the human
devotion to children as budding personalities than of the subtle
intercourse of male and female temperaments. By the time of the first
invasion, however, reproduction had been greatly restricted; for the
planet was fully populated, and each individual cloudlet was
potentially immortal. Among the Martians there was no "natural death,"
no spontaneous death through mere senility. Normally the cloudlet's
members kept themselves in repair indefinitely by the reproduction of
their constituent units. Diseases, indeed, were often fatal. And chief
among them was a plague, corresponding to terrestrial cancer, in which
the subvital units lost their sensitivity to radiation, so that they
proceeded to live as primitive organisms and reproduced without
restraint. As they also became parasitic on the unaffected units, the
cloudlet inevitably died.

Like the higher kinds of terrestrial mammal, the Martians had strong
impulses of curiosity. Having also many practical needs to fulfil as a
result of their civilization, and being extremely well equipped by
nature for physical experiment and microscopy, they had gone far in
the natural sciences. In physics, astronomy, chemistry and even in the
chemistry of life, man had nothing to teach them.

The vast corpus of Martian knowledge had taken many thousands of years
to grow. All its stages, and its current achievements were recorded on
immense scrolls of paper made from vegetable pulp, and stored in
libraries of stone. For the Martians, curiously enough, had become
great masons, and had covered much of their planet with buildings of
feathery and toppling design, such as would have been quite impossible
on earth. They had no need of buildings for habitation, save in the
arctic regions; but as workshops, granaries, and store rooms of all
sorts, buildings had become very necessary to the Martians. Moreover
these extremely tenuous creatures took a peculiar joy in manipulating
solids. Even their most utilitarian architecture blossomed with a sort
of gothic or arabesque ornateness and fantasy, wherein the ethereal
seemed to torture the substance of solid rocks into its own likeness.

At the time of the invasion, the Martians were still advancing
intellectually; and, indeed, it was through an achievement in
theoretical physics that they were able to leave their planet. They
had long known that minute particles at the upper limit of the
atmosphere might be borne into space by the pressure of the sun's rays
at dawn and sunset. And at length they discovered how to use this
pressure as the wind is used in sailing. Dissipating themselves into
their ultra-microscopic units, they contrived to get a purchase on the
gravitational fields of the solar system, as a boat's keel and rudder
get a purchase on the water. Thus they were able to tack across to the
earth as an armada of ultra-microscopic vessels. Arrived in the
terrestrial sky, they re-formed themselves as cloudlets, swam through
the dense air to the alpine summit, and climbed downwards, as a
swimmer may climb down a ladder under water.

This achievement involved very intricate calculations and chemical
inventions, especially for the preservation of life in transit and on
an alien planet. It could never have been done save by beings with
far-reaching and accurate knowledge of the physical world. But though
in respect of "natural knowledge" the Martians were so well advanced,
they were extremely backward in all those spheres which may be called
"spiritual knowledge." They had little understanding of their own
mentality, and less of the place of mind in the cosmos. Though in a
sense a highly intelligent species, they were at the same time wholly
lacking in philosophical interest. They scarcely conceived, still less
tackled, the problems which even the First Men had faced so often,
though so vainly. For the Martians there was no mystery in the
distinction between reality and appearance or in the relation of the
one and the many, or in the status of good and evil. Nor were they
ever critical of their own ideals. They aimed whole-heartedly at the
advancement of the Martian super-individual. But what should
constitute individuality, and its advancement, they never seriously
considered. And the idea that they were under obligation also toward
beings not included in the Martian system of radiation, proved wholly
beyond them. For, though so clever, they were the most naive of
self-deceivers, and had no insight to see what it is that is truly
desirable.


4. DELUSIONS OF THE MARTIANS


To understand how the Martians tricked themselves, and how they were
finally undone by their own insane will, we must glance at their
history.

The civilized Martians constituted the sole remaining variety of a
species. That species itself, in the remote past, had competed with,
and exterminated, many other species of the same general type. Aided
by the changing climate, it had also exterminated almost all the
species of the more terrestrial kind of fauna, and had thereby much
reduced the vegetation which it was subsequently to need and foster so
carefully. This victory of the species had been due partly to its
versatility and intelligence, partly to a remarkable zest in ferocity,
partly to its unique powers of radiation and sensitivity to radiation,
which enabled it to act with a coordination impossible even to the
most gregarious of animals. But, as with other species in biological
history, the capacity by which it triumphed became at length a source
of weakness. When the species reached a stage corresponding to
primitive human culture, one of its races, achieving a still higher
degree of radiant intercourse and physical unity, was able to behave
as a single vital unit; and so it succeeded in exterminating all its
rivals. Racial conflict had persisted for many thousands of years, but
as soon as the favoured race had developed this almost absolute
solidarity of will, its victory was sweeping, and was clinched by
joyous massacre of the enemy.

But ever afterwards the Martians suffered from the psychological
effects of their victory at the close of the epoch of racial wars. The
extreme brutality with which the other races had been exterminated
conflicted with the generous impulses which civilization had begun to
foster, and left a scar upon the conscience of the victors. In
self-defence they persuaded themselves that since they were so much more
admirable than the rest, the extermination was actually a sacred duty.
And their unique value, they said, consisted in their unique
radiational development. Hence arose a gravely insincere tradition and
culture, which finally ruined the species. They had long believed that
the physical basis of consciousness must necessarily be a system of
units directly sensitive to ethereal vibrations, and that organisms
dependent on the physical contact of their parts were too gross to
have any experience whatever. After the age of the racial massacres
they sought to persuade themselves that the excellence, or ethical
worth, of any organism depended upon the degree of complexity and
unity of its radiation. Century by century they strengthened their
faith in this vulgar doctrine, and developed also a system of quite
irrational delusions and obsessions based upon an obsessive and
passionate lust in radiation.

It would take too long to tell of all these subsidiary fantasies, and
of the ingenious ways in which they were reconciled with the main body
of sane knowledge. But one at least must be mentioned, because of the
part it played in the struggle with man. The Martians knew, of course,
that "solid matter" was solid by virtue of the interlocking of the
minute electromagnetic systems called atoms. Now rigidity had for them
somewhat the same significance and prestige that air, breath, spirit,
had for early man. It was in the quasi-solid form that Martians were
physically most potent; and the maintenance of this form was
exhausting and difficult. These facts combined in the Martian
consciousness with the knowledge that rigidity was after all the
outcome of interlocked electro-magnetic systems. Rigidity was thus
endowed with a peculiar sanctity. The superstition was gradually
consolidated, by a series of psychological accidents, into a fanatical
admiration of all very rigid materials, but especially of hard
crystals, and above all of diamonds. For diamonds were extravagantly
resistant; and at the same time, as the Martians themselves put it,
diamonds were superb jugglers with the ethereal radiation called
light. Every diamond was therefore a supreme embodiment of the tense
energy and eternal equilibrium of the cosmos, and must be treated with
reverence. In Mars, all known diamonds were exposed to sunlight on the
pinnacles of sacred buildings; and the thought that on the neighbour
planet might be diamonds which were not properly treated, was one
motive of the invasion.

Thus did the Martian mind, unwittingly side-tracked from its true
development, fall sick, and strive ever more fanatically toward mere
phantoms of its goal. In the early stages of the disorder, radiation
was merely regarded as an infallible _sign_ of mentality, and
radiative complexity was taken as an infallible _measure_, merely, of
spiritual worth. But little by little, radiation and mentality failed
to be distinguished, and radiative organization was actually mistaken
for spiritual worth.

In this obsession the Martians resembled somewhat the First Men during
their degenerate phase of servitude to the idea of movement; but with
a difference. For the Martian intelligence was still active, though
its products were severely censored in the name of the "spirit of the
race." Every Martian was a case of dual personality. Not merely was he
sometimes a private consciousness, sometimes the consciousness of the
race, but further, even as a private individual he was in a manner
divided against himself. Though his practical allegiance to the
super-individual was absolute, so that he condemned or ignored all thoughts
and impulses that could not be assimilated to the public
consciousness, he did in fact have such thoughts and impulses, as it
were in the deepest recesses of his being. He very seldom noticed that
he was having them, and whenever he did notice it, he was shocked and
terrified; yet he did have them. They constituted an intermittent,
sometimes almost a continuous, critical commentary on all his more
reputable experience.

This was the great tragedy of the spirit on Mars. The Martians were in
many ways extremely well equipped for mental progress and for true
spiritual adventure, but through a trick of fortune which had
persuaded them to prize above all else unity and uniformity, they were
driven to thwart their own struggling spirits at every turn.

Far from being superior to the private mind, the public mind which
obsessed every Martian was in many ways actually inferior. It had come
into dominance in a crisis which demanded severe military
co-ordination; and though, since that remote age, it had made great
intellectual progress, it remained at heart a military mind. Its
disposition was something between that of a field-marshal and the God
of the ancient Hebrews. A certain English philosopher once described
and praised the fictitious corporate personality of the state, and
named it "Leviathan." The Martian superindividual was Leviathan
endowed with consciousness. In this consciousness there was nothing
hut what was easily assimilated and in accord with tradition. Thus the
public mind was always intellectually and culturally behind the times.
Only in respect of practical social organization did it keep abreast
of its own individuals. Intellectual progress had always been
initiated by private individuals, and had only penetrated the public
mind when the mass of individuals had been privately infected by
intercourse with the pioneers. The public consciousness itself
initiated progress only in the sphere of social, military, and
economic organization.

The novel circumstances which were encountered on the earth put the
mentality of the Martians to a supreme test. For the unique enterprise
of tackling a new world demanded the extremes of both public and
private activity, and so led to agonizing conflicts within each
private mind. For, while the undertaking was essentially social and
even military, and necessitated very strict co-ordination and unity of
action, the extreme novelty of the new environment demanded all the
resources of the untrammelled private consciousness. Moreover the
Martians encountered much on the earth which made nonsense of their
fundamental assumptions. And in their brightest moments of private
consciousness they sometimes recognized this fact.



CHAPTER IX. EARTH AND MARS


I. THE SECOND MEN AT BAY


Such were the beings that invaded the earth when the Second Men were
gathering their strength for a great venture in artificial evolution.
The motives of the invasion were both economic and religious. The
Martians sought water and vegetable matter; but they came also in a
crusading spirit, to "liberate" the terrestrial diamonds.

Conditions on the earth were very unfavourable to the invaders.
Excessive gravitation troubled them less than might have been
expected. Only in their roost concentrated form did they find it
oppressive. More harmful was the density of the terrestrial
atmosphere, which constricted the tenuous animate cloudlets very
painfully, hindering their vital processes, and deadening all their
movements. In their native atmosphere they swam hither and thither
with ease and considerable speed; but the treacly air of the earth
hampered them as a bird's wings are hampered under water. Moreover,
owing to their extreme buoyancy as individual cloudlets, they were
scarcely able to dive down so far as the mountain-tops. Excessive
oxygen was also a source of distress; it tended to put them into a
violent fever, which they had only been able to guard against very
imperfectly. Even more damaging was the excessive moisture of the
atmosphere, both through its solvent effect upon certain factors in
the subvital units, and because heavy rain interfered with the
physiological processes of the cloudlets and washed many of their
materials to the ground.

The invaders had also to cope with the tissue of "radio" messages that
constantly enveloped the planet, and tended to interfere with their
own organic systems of radiation. They were prepared for this to some
extent; but "beam wireless" at close range surprised, bewildered,
tortured, and finally routed them; so that they fled back to Mars,
leaving many of their number disintegrated in the terrestrial air.

But the pioneering army (or individual, for throughout the adventure
it maintained unity of consciousness) had much to report at home. As
was expected, there was rich vegetation, and water was even too
abundant. There were solid animals, of the type of the prehistoric
Martian fauna, but mostly two-legged and erect. Experiment had shown
that these creatures died when they were pulled to pieces, and that
though the sun's rays affected them by setting up chemical action in
their visual organs, they had no really direct sensitivity to
radiation. Obviously, therefore, they must be unconscious. On the
other hand, the terrestrial atmosphere was permanently alive with
radiation of a violent and incoherent type. It was still uncertain
whether these crude ethereal agitations were natural phenomena, mere
careless offshoots of the cosmic mind, or whether they were emitted by
a terrestrial organism. There was reason to suppose this last to be
the case, and that the solid organisms were used by some hidden
terrestrial intelligence as instruments; for there were buildings, and
many of the bipeds were found within the buildings. Moreover, the
sudden violent concentration of beam radiation upon the Martian cloud
suggested purposeful and hostile behaviour. Punitive action had
therefore been taken, and many buildings and bipeds had been
destroyed. The physical basis of such a terrestrial intelligence was
still to be discovered. It was certainly not in the terrestrial
clouds, for these had turned out to be insensitive to radiation.
Anyhow, it was obviously an intelligence of very low order, for its
radiation was scarcely at all systematic, and was indeed excessively
crude. One or two unfortunate diamonds had been found in a building.
There was no sign that they were properly venerated.

The Terrestrials, on their side, were left in complete bewilderment by
the extraordinary events of that day. Some had jokingly suggested that
since the strange substance had behaved in a manner obviously
vindictive, it must have been alive and conscious; but no one took the
suggestion seriously. Clearly, however, the thing had been dissipated
by beam radiation. That at least was an important piece of practical
knowledge. But theoretical knowledge about the real nature of the
clouds, and their place in the order of the universe, was for the
present wholly lacking. To a race of strong cognitive interest and
splendid scientific achievement, this ignorance was violently
disturbing. It seemed to shake the foundations of the great structure
of knowledge. Many frankly hoped, in spite of the loss of life in the
first invasion, that there would soon be another opportunity for
studying these amazing objects, which were not quite gaseous and not
quite solid, not (apparently) organic, yet capable of behaving in a
manner suggestive of life. An opportunity was soon afforded.

Some years after the first invasion the Martians appeared again, and
in far greater force. This time, moreover, they were almost immune
from man's offensive radiation. Operating simultaneously from all the
alpine regions of the earth, they began to dry up the great rivers at
their sources; and, venturing further afield, they spread over jungle
and agricultural land, and stripped off every leaf. Valley after
valley was devastated as though by endless swarms of locusts, so that
in whole countries there was not a green blade left. The booty was
carried off to Mars. Myriads of the subvital units, specialized for
transport of water and food materials, were loaded each with a few
molecules of the treasure, and dispatched to the home planet. The
traffic continued indefinitely. Meanwhile the main body of the
Martians proceeded to explore and loot. They were irresistible. For
the absorption of water and leafage, they spread over the countryside
as an impalpable mist which man had no means to dispel. For the
destruction of civilization, they became armies of gigantic
cloud-jellies, far bigger than the brute which had formed itself during the
earlier invasion. Cities were knocked down and flattened, human beings
masticated into pulp. Man tried weapon after weapon in vain.

Presently the Martians discovered the sources of terrestrial radiation
in the innumerable wireless transmitting stations. Here at last was
the physical basis of the terrestrial intelligence! But what a lowly
creature! What a caricature of life! Obviously in respect of
complexity and delicacy of organization these wretched immobile
systems of glass, metal and vegetable compounds were not to be
compared with the Martian cloud. Their only feat seemed to be that
they had managed to get control of the unconscious bipeds who tended
them.

In the course of their explorations the Martians also discovered a few
more diamonds. The second human species had outgrown the barbaric lust
for jewellery; but they recognized the beauty of gems and precious
metals, and used them as badges of office. Unfortunately, the
Martians, in sacking a town, came upon a woman who was wearing a large
diamond between her breasts; for she was mayor of the town, and in
charge of the evacuation. That the sacred stone should be used thus,
apparently for the mere identification of cattle, shocked the invaders
even more than the discovery of fragments of diamonds in certain
cutting-instruments. The war now began to be waged with all the
heroism and brutality of a crusade. Long after a rich booty of water
and vegetable matter had been secured, long after the Terrestrials had
developed an effective means of attack, and were slaughtering the
Martian clouds with high-tension electricity in the form of artificial
lightning flashes, the misguided fanatics stayed on to rescue the
diamonds and carry them away to the mountain tops, where, years
afterwards, climbers discovered them, arranged along the rock-edges in
glittering files, like seabird's eggs. Thither the dying remnant of
the Martian host had transported them with its last strength, scorning
to save itself before the diamonds were borne into the pure mountain
air, to be lodged with dignity. When the Second Men learned of this
great hoard of diamonds, they began to be seriously persuaded that
they had been dealing, not with a freak of physical nature, nor yet
(as some said) with swarms of bacteria, but with organisms of a higher
order. For how could the jewels have been singled out, freed from
their metallic settings, and so carefully regimented on the rocks,
save by conscious purpose? The murderous clouds must have had at least
the pilfering mentality of jackdaws, since evidently they had been
fascinated by the treasure. But the very action which revealed their
consciousness suggested also that they were no more intelligent than
the merely instinctive animals. There was no opportunity of correcting
this error, since all the clouds had been destroyed.

The struggle had lasted only a few months. Its material effects on Man
were serious but not insurmountable. Its immediate psychological
effect was invigorating. The Second Men had long been accustomed to a
security and prosperity that were almost utopian. Suddenly they were
overwhelmed by a calamity which was quite unintelligible in terms of
their own systematic knowledge. Their predecessors, in such a
situation, would have behaved with their own characteristic
vacillation between the human and the subhuman. They would have
contracted a fever of romantic loyalty, and have performed many random
acts of secretly self-regarding self-sacrifice. They would have sought
profit out of the public disaster, and howled at all who were more
fortunate than themselves. They would have cursed their gods, and
looked for more useful ones. But also, in an incoherent manner, they
would sometimes have behaved reasonably, and would even have risen now
and again to the standards of the Second Men. Wholly unused to
large-scale human bloodshed, these more developed beings suffered an agony
of pity for their mangled fellows. But they said nothing about their
pity, and scarcely noticed their own generous grief; for they were
busy with the work of rescue. Suddenly confronted with the need of
extreme loyalty and courage, they exulted in complying, and
experienced that added keenness of spirit which comes when danger is
well faced. But it did not occur to them that they were bearing
themselves heroically; for they thought they were merely behaving
reasonably, showing common sense. And if any one failed in a tight
place, they did not call him coward, but gave him a drug to clear his
head; or, if that failed, they put him under a doctor. No doubt, among
the First Men such a policy would not have been justified, for those
bewildered beings had not the clear and commanding vision which kept
all sane members of the second species constant in loyalty.

The immediate psychological effect of the disaster was that it
afforded this very noble race healthful exercise for its great
reserves of loyalty and heroism. Quite apart from this immediate
invigoration, however, the first agony, and those many others which
were to follow, influenced the Second Men for good and ill in a train
of effects which may be called spiritual. They had long known very
well that the universe was one in which there could be not only
private but also great public tragedies; and their philosophy did not
seek to conceal this fact. Private tragedy they were able to face with
a bland fortitude, and even an ecstasy of acceptance, such as the
earlier species had but rarely attained. Public tragedy, even
world-tragedy, they declared should be faced in the same spirit. But to
know world-tragedy in the abstract, is very different from the direct
acquaintance with it. And now the Second Men, even while they held their
attention earnestly fixed upon the practical work of defence, were
determined to absorb this tragedy into the very depths of their being,
to scrutinize it fearlessly, savour it, digest it, so that its fierce
potency should henceforth be added to them. Therefore they did not curse
their gods, nor supplicate them. They said to themselves, "Thus, and
thus, and thus, is the world. Seeing the depth we shall see also the
height; and we shall praise both."

But their schooling was yet scarcely begun. The Martian invaders were
all dead, but their subvital units were dispersed over the planet as a
virulent ultra-microscopic dust. For, though as members of the living
cloud they could enter the human body without doing permanent harm,
now that they were freed from their functions within the higher
organic system, they became a predatory virus. Breathed into man's
lungs, they soon adapted themselves to the new environment, and threw
his tissues into disorder. Each cell that they entered overthrew its
own constitution, like a state which the enemy has successfully
infected with lethal propaganda through a mere handful of agents.
Thus, though man was temporarily victor over the Martian
super-individual, his own vital units were poisoned and destroyed by the
subvital remains of his dead enemy. A race whose physique had been as
utopian as its body politic, was reduced to timid invalidity. And it
was left in possession of a devastated planet. The loss of water
proved negligible; but the destruction of vegetation in all the war
areas produced for a while a world famine such as the Second Men had
never known. And the material fabric of civilization had been so
broken that many decades would have to be spent in rebuilding it.

But the physical damage proved far less serious than the
physiological. Earnest research discovered, indeed, a means of
checking the infection; and, after a few years of rigorous purging,
the atmosphere and man's flesh were clean once more. But the
generations that had been stricken never recovered; their tissues had
been too seriously corroded. Little by little, of course, there arose
a fresh population of undamaged men and women. But it was a small
population; for the fertility of the stricken had been much reduced.
Thus the earth was now occupied by a small number of healthy persons
below middle age and a very large number of ageing invalids. For many
years these cripples had contrived to carry on the work of the world
in spite of their frailty, but gradually they began to fail both in
endurance and competence. For they were rapidly losing their grip on
life, and sinking into a long-drawn-out senility, from which the
Second Men had never before suffered; and at the same time the young,
forced to take up work for which they were not yet equipped, committed
all manner of blunders and crudities of which their elders would never
have been guilty. But such was the general standard of mentality in
the second human species, that what might have been an occasion for
recrimination produced an unparalleled example of human loyalty at its
best. The stricken generations decided almost unanimously that
whenever an individual was declared by his generation to have outlived
his competence, he should commit suicide. The younger generations,
partly through affection, partly through dread of their own
incompetence, were at first earnestly opposed to this policy. "Our
elders," one young man said, "may have declined in vigour, but they
are still beloved, and still wise. We dare not carry on without them."
But the elders maintained their point. Many members of the rising
generation were no longer juveniles. And, if the body politic was to
survive the economic crisis, it must now ruthlessly cut out all its
damaged tissues. Accordingly the decision was carried out. One by one,
as occasion demanded, the stricken "chose the peace of annihilation,"
leaving a scanty, inexperienced, but vigorous, population to rebuild
what had been destroyed.

Four centuries passed, and then again the Martian clouds appeared in
the sky. Once more devastation and slaughter. Once more a complete
failure of the two mentalities to conceive one another. Once more the
Martians were destroyed. Once more the pulmonary plague, the slow
purging, a crippled population, and generous suicide.

Again, and again they appeared, at irregular intervals for fifty
thousand years. On each occasion the Martians came irresistibly
fortified against whatever weapon humanity had last used against them.
And so, by degrees, men began to recognize that the enemy was no
merely instinctive brute, but intelligent. They therefore made
attempts to get in touch with these alien minds, and make overtures
for a peaceful settlement. But since obviously the negotiations had to
be performed by human beings, and since the Martians always regarded
human beings as the mere cattle of the terrestrial intelligence, the
envoys were always either ignored or destroyed.

During each invasion the Martians contrived to dispatch a considerable
bulk of water to Mars. And every time, not satisfied with this
material gain, they stayed too long crusading, until man had found a
weapon to circumvent their new defences; and then they were routed.
After each invasion man's recovery was slower and less complete, while
Mars, in spite of the loss of a large proportion of its population,
was in the long run invigorated with the extra water.


2. THE RUIN OF TWO WORLDS


Rather more than fifty thousand years after their first appearance,
the Martians secured a permanent footing on the Antarctic table-land
and over-ran Australasia and South Africa. For many centuries they
remained in possession of a large part of the earth's surface,
practising a kind of agriculture, studying terrestrial conditions, and
spending much energy on the "liberation" of diamonds.

During the considerable period before their settlement their mentality
had scarcely changed; but actual habitation of the earth now began to
undermine their self-complacency and their unity. It was borne in upon
certain exploring Martians that the terrestrial bipeds, though
insensitive to radiation, were actually the intelligences of the
planet. At first this fact was studiously shunned, but little by
little it gripped the attention of all terrestrial Martians. At the
same time they began to realize that the whole work of research into
terrestrial conditions, and even the social construction of their
colony, depended, not on the public mind, but on private individuals,
acting in their private capacity. The colonial super-individual
inspired only the diamond crusade, and the attempt to extirpate the
terrestrial intelligence, or radiation. These various novel acts of
insight woke the Martian colonists from an age-long dream. They saw
that their revered super-individual was scarcely more than the least
common measure of themselves, a bundle of atavistic fantasies and
cravings, knit into one mind and gifted with a certain practical
cunning. A rapid and bewildering spiritual renascence now came over
the whole Martian colony. The central doctrine of it was that what was
valuable in the Martian species was not radiation but mentality. These
two utterly different things had been confused, and even identified,
since the dawn of Martian civilization. At last they were clearly
distinguished. A fumbling but sincere study of mind now began; and
distinction was even made between the humbler and loftier mental
activities.

There is no telling whither this renascence might have led, had it run
its course. Possibly in time the Martians might have recognized worth
even in minds other than Martian minds. But such a leap was at first
far beyond them. Though they now understood that human animals were
conscious and intelligent, they regarded them with no sympathy, rather
indeed, with increased hostility. They still rendered allegiance to
the Martian race, or brotherhood, just because it was in a sense one
flesh, and, indeed, one mind. For they were concerned not to abolish
but to re-create the public mind of the colony, and even that of Mars
itself.

But the colonial public mind still largely dominated them in their
more somnolent periods, and actually sent some of those who, in their
private phases, were revolutionaries across to Mars for help against
the revolutionary movement. The home planet was quite untouched by the
new ideas. Its citizens co-operated whole-heartedly in an attempt to
bring the colonists to their senses. But in vain. The colonial public
mind itself changed its character as the centuries passed, until it
became seriously alienated from Martian orthodoxy. Presently, indeed,
it began to undergo a very strange and thorough metamorphosis, from
which, conceivably, it might have emerged as the noblest inhabitant of
the solar system. Little by little it fell into a kind of hypnotic
trance. That is to say, it ceased to possess the attention of its
private members, yet remained as a unity of their subconscious, or
un-noticed mentality. Radiational unity of the colony was maintained, but
only in this subconscious manner; and it was at that depth that the
great metamorphosis began to take place under the fertilizing
influence of the new ideas; which, so to speak, were generated in the
tempest of the fully conscious mental revolution, and kept on
spreading down into the oceanic depth of the subconsciousness. Such a
condition was likely to produce in time the emergence of a
qualitatively new and finer mentality, and to waken at last into a
fully conscious super-individual of higher order than its own members.
But meanwhile this trance of the public consciousness incapacitated
the colony for that prompt and co-ordinated action which had been the
most successful faculty of Martian life. The public mind of the home
planet easily destroyed its disorderly offspring, and set about
re-colonizing the earth.

Several times during the next three hundred thousand years this
process repeated itself. The changeless and terribly efficient
 super-individual of Mars extirpated its own offspring on the earth, before
it could emerge from the chrysalis. And the tragedy might have been
repeated indefinitely, but for certain changes that took place in
humanity.

The first few centuries after the foundation of the Martian colony had
been spent in ceaseless war. But at last, with terribly reduced
resources, the Second Men had reconciled themselves to the fact that
they must live in the same world with their mysterious enemy.
Moreover, constant observation of the Martians began to restore
somewhat man's shattered self-confidence. For during the fifty
thousand years before the Martian colony was founded his opinion of
himself had been undermined. He had formerly been used to regarding
himself as the sun's ablest child. Then suddenly a stupendous new
phenomenon had defeated his intelligence. Slowly he had learned that
he was at grips with a determined and versatile rival, and that this
rival hailed from a despised planet. Slowly he had been forced to
suspect that he himself was outclassed, outshone, by a race whose very
physique was incomprehensible to man. But after the Martians had
established a permanent colony, human scientists began to discover the
real physiological nature of the Martian organism, and were comforted
to find that it did not make nonsense of human science. Man also
learned that the Martians, though very able in certain spheres, were
not really of a high mental type. These discoveries restored human
self-confidence. Man settled down to make the best of the situation.
Impassable barriers of high-power electric current were devised to
keep the Martians out of human territory, and men began patiently to
rebuild their ruined home as best they could. At first there was
little respite from the crusading zeal of the Martians, but in the
second millennium this began to abate, and the two races left one
another alone, save for occasional revivals of Martian fervour. Human
civilization was at last reconstructed and consolidated, though upon a
modest scale. Once more, though interrupted now and again by decades
of agony, human beings lived in peace and relative prosperity. Life
was somewhat harder than formerly, and the physique of the race was
definitely less reliable than of old; but men and women still enjoyed
conditions which most nations of the earlier species would have
envied. The age of ceaseless personal sacrifice in service of the
stricken community had ended at last. Once more a wonderful diversity
of untrammelled personalities was put forth. Once more the minds of
men and women were devoted without hindrance to the joy of skilled
work, and all the subtleties of personal intercourse. Once more the
passionate interest in one's fellows, which had for so long been
hushed under the all-dominating public calamity, refreshed and
enlarged the mind. Once more there was music, sweet and
backward-hearkening towards a golden past. Once more a wealth of
literature, and of the visual arts. Once more intellectual exploration
into the nature of the physical world and the potentiality of mind. And
once more the religious experience, which had for so long been coarsened
and obscured by all the violent distractions and inevitable
self-deceptions of war, seemed to be refining itself under the influence
of reawakened culture.

In such circumstances the earlier and less sensitive human species
might well have prospered indefinitely. Not so the Second Men. For
their very refinement of sensibility made them incapable of shunning
an ever-present conviction that in spite of all their prosperity they
were undermined. Though superficially they seemed to be making a slow
but heroic recovery they were at the same time suffering from a still
slower and far more profound spiritual decline. Generation succeeded
generation. Society became almost perfected, within its limited
territory and its limitations of material wealth. The capacities of
personality were developed with extreme subtlety and richness. At last
the race proposed to itself once more its ancient project of re-making
human nature upon a loftier plane. But somehow it had no longer the
courage and self-respect for such work. And so, though there was much
talk, nothing was done. Epoch succeeded epoch, and everything human
remained apparently the same. Like a twig that has been broken but not
broken off, man settled down to retain his life and culture, but could
make no progress.

It is almost impossible to describe in a few words the subtle malady
of the spirit that was undermining the Second Men. To say that they
were suffering from an inferiority complex, would not be wholly false,
but it would be a misleading vulgarization of the truth. To say that
they had lost faith, both in themselves and in the universe, would be
almost as inadequate. Crudely stated, their trouble was that, as a
species, they had attempted a certain spiritual feat beyond the scope
of their still-primitive flature. Spiritually they had over-reached
themselves, broken every muscle (so to speak) and incapacitated
themselves for any further effort. For they had determined to see
their own racial tragedy as a thing of beauty, and they had failed. It
was the obscure sense of this defeat that had poisoned them, for,
being in many respects a very noble species, they could not simply
turn their backs upon their failure and pursue the old way of life
with the accustomed zest and thoroughness.

During the earliest Martian raids, the spiritual leaders of humanity
had preached that the disaster must be an occasion for a supreme
religious experience. While striving mightily to save their
civilization, men must yet (so it was said) learn not merely to
endure, but to admire, even the sternest issue. "Thus and thus is the
world. Seeing the depth, we shall see also the height, and praise
both." The whole population had accepted this advice. At first they
had seemed to succeed. Many noble literary expressions were given
forth, which seemed to define and elaborate, and even actually to
create in men's hearts, this supreme experience. But as the centuries
passed and the disasters were repeated, men began to fear that their
forefathers had deceived themselves. Those remote generations had
earnestly longed to feel the racial tragedy as a factor in the cosmic
beauty; and at last they had persuaded themselves that this experience
had actually befallen them. But their descendants were slowly coming
to suspect that no such experience had ever occurred, that it would
never occur to any man, and that there was in fact no such cosmic
beauty to be experienced. The First Men would probably, in such a
situation, have swung violently either into spiritual nihilism, or
else into some comforting religious myth. At any rate, they were of
too coarse-grained a nature to be ruined by a trouble so impalpable.
Not so the Second Men. For they realized all too clearly that they
were faced with the supreme crux of existence. And so, age after age
the generations clung desperately to the hope that, if only they could
endure a little longer, the light would break in on them. Even after
the Martian colony had been three times established and destroyed by
the orthodox race in Mars, the supreme preoccupation of the human
species was with this religious crux. But afterwards, and very
gradually, they lost heart. For it was borne in on them that either
they themselves were by nature too obtuse to perceive this ultimate
excellence of things (an excellence which they had strong reason to
believe in intellectually, although they could not actually experience
it), or the human race had utterly deceived itself, and the course of
cosmic events after all was not significant, but a meaningless
rigmarole.

It was this dilemma that poisoned them. Had they been still physically
in their prime, they might have found fortitude to accept it, and
proceed to the patient exfoliation of such very real excellencies as
they were still capable of creating. But they had lost the vitality
which alone could perform such acts of spiritual abnegation. All the
wealth of personality, all the intricacies of personal relationship,
all the complex enterprise of a very great community, all art, all
intellectual research, had lost their savour. It is remarkable that a
purely religious disaster should have warped even the delight of
lovers in one another's bodies, actually taken the flavour out of
food, and drawn a veil between the sun-bather and the sun. But
individuals of this species, unlike their predecessors, were so
closely integrated, that none of their functions could remain healthy
while the highest was disordered. Moreover, the general slight failure
of physique, which was the legacy of age-long war, had resulted in a
recurrence of those shattering brain disorders which had dogged the
earliest races of their species. The very horror of the prospect of
racial insanity increased their aberration from reasonableness. Little
by little, shocking perversions of desire began to terrify them.
Masochistic and sadistic orgies alternated with phases of extravagant
and ghastly revelry. Acts of treason against the community, hitherto
almost unknown, at last necessitated a strict police system. Local
groups organized predatory raids against one another. Nations
appeared, and all the phobias that make up nationalism.

The Martian colonists, when they observed man's disorganization,
prepared, at the instigation of the home planet, a very great
offensive. It so happened that at this time the colony was going
through its phase of enlightenment, which had always hitherto been
followed sooner or later by chastisement from Mars. Many individuals
were at the moment actually toying with the idea of seeking harmony
with man, rather than war. But the public mind of Mars, outraged by
this treason, sought to overwhelm it by instituting a new crusade.
Man's disunion offered a great opportunity.

The first attack produced a remarkable change in the human race. Their
madness seemed suddenly to leave them. Within a few weeks the national
governments had surrendered their sovereignty to a central authority.
Disorders, debauchery, perversions, wholly ceased. The treachery and
self-seeking and corruption, which had by now been customary for many
centuries, suddenly gave place to universal and perfect devotion to
the social cause. The species was apparently once more in its right
mind. Everywhere, in spite of the war's horrors, there was gay
brotherliness, combined with a heroism, which clothed itself in an odd
extravagance of jocularity.

The war went ill for man. The general mood changed to cold resolution.
And still victory was with the Martians. Under the influence of the
huge fanatical armies which were poured in from the home planet, the
colonists had shed their tentative pacifism, and sought to vindicate
their loyalty by ruthlessness. In reply the human race deserted its
sanity, and succumbed to an uncontrollable lust for destruction. It
was at this stage that a human bacteriologist announced that he had
bred a virus of peculiar deadliness and transmissibility, with which
it would be possible to infect the enemy, but at the cost of
annihilating also the human race. It is significant of the insane
condition of the human population at this time that, when these facts
were announced and broadcast, there was no discussion of the
desirability of using this weapon. It was immediately put in action,
the whole human race applauding.

Within a few months the Martian colony had vanished, their home planet
itself had received the infection, and its population was already
aware that nothing could save it. Man's constitution was tougher than
that of the animate clouds, and he appeared to be doomed to a somewhat
more lingering death. He made no effort to save himself, either from
the disease which he himself had propagated, or from the pulmonary
plague which was caused by the disintegrated substance of the dead
Martian colony. All the public processes of civilization began to fall
to pieces; for the community was paralysed by disillusion, and by the
expectation of death. Like a bee-hive that has no queen, the whole
population of the earth sank into apathy. Men and women stayed in
their homes, idling, eating whatever food they could procure, sleeping
far into the mornings, and, when at last they rose, listlessly
avoiding one another. Only the children could still be gay, and even
they were oppressed by their elders' gloom. Meanwhile the disease was
spreading. Household after household was stricken, and was left
unaided by its neighbours. But the pain in each individual's flesh was
strangely numbed by his more poignant distress in the spiritual defeat
of the race. For such was the high development of this species, that
even physical agony could not distract it from the racial failure. No
one wanted to save himself; and each knew that his neighbours desired
not his aid. Only the children, when the disease crippled them, were
plunged into agony and terror. Tenderly, yet listlessly, their elders
would then give them the last sleep. Meanwhile the unburied dead
spread corruption among the dying. Cities fell still and silent. The
corn was not harvested.


3. THE THIRD DARK AGE


So contagious and so lethal was the new bacterium, that its authors
expected the human race to be wiped out as completely as the Martian
colony. Each dying remnant of humanity, isolated from its fellows by
the breakdown of communications, imagined its own last moments to be
the last of man. But by accident, almost one might say by miracle, a
spark of human life was once more preserved, to hand on the sacred
fire. A certain stock or strain of the race, promiscuously scattered
throughout the continents, proved less susceptible than the majority.
And, as the bacterium was less vigorous in a hot climate, a few of
these favoured individuals, who happened to be in the tropical jungle,
recovered from the infection. And of these few a minority recovered
also from the pulmonary plague which, as usual, was propagated from
the dead Martians.

It might have been expected that from this human germ a new civilized
community would have soon arisen. With such brilliant beings as the
Second Men, surely a few generations, or at the most a few thousand
years, should have sufficed to make up the lost ground.

But no. Once more it was in a manner the very excellence of the
species that prevented its recovery, and flung the spirit of Earth
into a trance which lasted longer than the whole previous career of
mammals. Again and again, some thirty million times, the seasons were
repeated; and throughout this period man remained as fixed in bodily
and mental character as, formerly, the platypus. Members of the
earlier human species must find it difficult to understand this
prolonged impotence of a race far more developed than themselves. For
here apparently were both the requisites of progressive culture,
namely a world rich and unpossessed, and a race exceptionally able.
Yet nothing was done.

When the plagues, and all the immense consequent putrefactions, had
worked themselves off, the few isolated groups of human survivors
settled down to an increasingly indolent tropical life. The fruits of
past learning were not imparted to the young, who therefore grew up in
extreme ignorance of almost everything beyond their immediate
experience. At the same time the elder generation cowed their juniors
with vague suggestions of racial defeat and universal futility. This
would not have mattered, had the young themselves been normal; they
would have reacted with fervent optimism. But they themselves were now
by nature incapable of any enthusiasm. For, in a species in which the
lower functions were so strictly disciplined under the higher, the
long-drawn-out spiritual disaster had actually begun to take effect
upon the germ-plasm; so that individuals were doomed before birth to
lassitude, and to mentality in a minor key. The First Men, long ago,
had fallen into a kind of racial senility through a combination of
vulgar errors and indulgences. But the second species, like a boy
whose mind has been too soon burdened with grave experience, lived
henceforth in a sleep-walk.

As the generations passed, all the lore of civilization was shed, save
the routine of tropical agriculture and hunting. Not that intelligence
itself had waned. Not that the race had sunk into mere savagery.
Lassitude did not prevent it from readjusting itself to suit its new
circumstances. These sleep-walkers soon invented convenient ways of
making, in the home and by hand, much that had hitherto been made in
factories and by mechanical power. Almost without mental effort they
designed and fashioned tolerable instruments out of wood and flint and
bone. But though still intelligent, they had become by disposition,
supine, indifferent. They would exert themselves only under the
pressure of urgent primitive need. No man seemed capable of putting
forth the full energy of a man. Even suffering had lost its poignancy.
And no ends seemed worth pursuing that could not be realized speedily.
The sting had gone out of experience. The soul was calloused against
every goad. Men and women worked and played, loved and suffered; but
always in a kind of rapt absent-mindedness. It was as though they were
ever trying to remember something important which escaped them. The
affairs of daily life seemed too trivial to be taken seriously. Yet
that other, and supremely important thing, which alone deserved
consideration, was so obscure that no one had any idea what it was.
Nor indeed was anyone aware of this hypnotic subjection, any more than
a sleeper is aware of being asleep.

The minimum of necessary work was performed, and there was even a
dreamy zest in the performance, but nothing which would entail extra
toil ever seemed worth while. And so, when adjustment to the new
circumstances of the world had been achieved, complete stagnation set
in. Practical intelligence was easily able to cope with a slowly
changing environment, and even with sudden natural upheavals such as
floods, earthquakes and disease epidemics. Man remained in a sense
master of his world, but he had no idea what to do with his mastery.
It was everywhere assumed that the sane end of living was to spend as
many days as possible in indolence, lying in the shade. Unfortunately
human beings had, of course, many needs which were irksome if not
appeased, and so a good deal of hard work had to be done. Hunger and
thirst had to be satisfied. Other individuals besides oneself had to
be cared for, since man was cursed with sympathy and with a sentiment
for the welfare of his group. The only fully rational behaviour, it
was thought, would be general suicide, but irrational impulses made
this impossible. Beatific drugs offered a temporary heaven. But, far
as the Second Men had fallen, they were still too clear-sighted to
forget that such beatitude is outweighed by subsequent misery.

Century by century, epoch by epoch, man glided on in this seemingly
precarious, yet actually unshakable equilibrium. Nothing that happened
to him could disturb his easy dominance over the beasts and over
physical nature; nothing could shock him out of his racial sleep.
Long-drawn-out climatic changes made desert, jungle and grass-land
fluctuate like the clouds. As the years advanced by millions, ordinary
geological processes, greatly accentuated by the immense strains set
up by the Patagonian upheaval, remodelled the surface of the planet.
Continents were submerged, or lifted out of the sea, till presently
there was little of the old configuration. And along with these
geological changes went changes in the fauna and flora. The bacterium
which had almost exterminated man had also wrought havoc amongst other
mammals. Once more the planet had to be re-stocked, this time from the
few surviving tropical species. Once more there was a great re-making
of old types, only less revolutionary than that which had followed the
Patagonian disaster. And since the human race remained minute, through
the effects of its spiritual fatigue, other species were favoured.
Especially the ruminants and the large carnivora increased and
diversified themselves into many habits and forms.

But the most remarkable of all the biological trains of events in this
period was the history of the Martian subvital units that had been
disseminated by the slaughter of the Martian colony, and had then
tormented men and animals with pulmonary diseases. As the ages passed,
certain species of mammals so readjusted themselves that the Martian
virus became not only harmless but necessary to their well-being. A
relationship which was originally that of parasite and host became in
time a true symbiosis, a co-operative partnership, in which the
terrestrial animals gained something of the unique attributes of the
vanished Martian organisms. The time was to come when Man himself
should look with envy on these creatures, and finally make use of the
Martian "virus" for his own enrichment.

But meanwhile, and for many million years, almost all kinds of life
were on the move, save Man. Like a ship-wrecked sailor, he lay
exhausted and asleep on his raft, long after the storm had abated.

But his stagnation was not absolute. Imperceptibly, he was drifting on
the oceanic currents of life, and in a direction far out of his
original course. Little by little, his habit was becoming simpler,
less artificial, more animal. Agriculture faded out, since it was no
longer necessary in the luxuriant garden where man lived. Weapons of
defence and of the chase became more precisely adapted to their
restricted purposes, but at the same time less diversified and more
stereotyped. Speech almost vanished; for there was no novelty left in
experience. Familiar facts and familiar emotions were conveyed
increasingly by gestures which were mostly unwitting. Physically, the
species had changed little. Though the natural period of life was
greatly reduced, this was due less to physiological change than to a
strange and fatal increase of absent-mindedness in middle-age. The
individual gradually ceased to react to his environment; so that even
if he escaped a violent death, he died of starvation.

Yet in spite of this great change, the species remained essentially
human. There was no bestialization, such as had formerly produced a
race of sub-men. These tranced remnants of the second human species
were not beasts but innocents, simples, children of nature, perfectly
adjusted to their simple life. In many ways their state was idyllic
and enviable. But such was their dimmed mentality that they were never
clearly aware even of the blessings they had, still less, of course,
of the loftier experiences which had kindled and tortured their
ancestors.



CHAPTER X. THE THIRD MEN IN THE WILDERNESS


1. THE THIRD HUMAN SPECIES


We have now followed man's career during some forty million years. The
whole period to be covered by this chronicle is about two thousand
million. In this chapter, and the next, therefore, we must accomplish
a swift flight at great altitude over a tract of time more than three
times as long as that which we have hitherto observed. This great
expanse is no desert, but a continent teeming with variegated life,
and many successive and very diverse civilizations. The myriads of
human beings who inhabit it far outnumber the First and Second Men
combined. And the content of each one of these lives is a universe,
rich and poignant as that of any reader of this book.

In spite of the great diversity of this span of man's history, it is a
single movement within the whole symphony, just as the careers of the
First and of the Second Men are each a single movement. Not only is it
a period dominated by a single natural human species and the
artificial human species into which the natural species at length
transformed itself; but, also, in spite of innumerable digressions, a
single theme, a single mood of the human will, informs the whole
duration. For now at last man's main energy is devoted to remaking his
own physical and mental nature. Throughout the rise and fall of many
successive cultures this purpose is progressively clarifying itself,
and expressing itself in many tragic and even devastating experiments;
until, toward the close of this immense period, it seems almost to
achieve its end.

When the Second Men had remained in their strange racial trance for
about thirty million years, the obscure forces that make for
advancement began to stir in them once more. This reawakening was
favoured by geological accident. An incursion of the sea gradually
isolated some of their number in an island continent, which was once
part of the North Atlantic ocean-bed. The climate of this island
gradually cooled from sub-tropical to temperate and sub-arctic. The
vast change of conditions caused in the imprisoned race a subtle
chemical re-arrangement of the germ-plasm, such that there ensued an
epidemic of biological variation. Many new types appeared, but in the
long run one, more vigorous and better adapted than the rest, crowded
out all competitors and slowly consolidated itself as a new species,
the Third Men.

Scarcely more than half the stature of their predecessors, these
beings were proportionally slight and lithe. Their skin was of a sunny
brown, covered with a luminous halo of red-gold hairs, which on the
head became a russet mop. Their golden eyes, reminiscent of the snake,
were more enigmatic than profound. Their faces were compact as a cat's
muzzle, their lips full, but subtle at the corners. Their ears,
objects of personal pride and of sexual admiration, were extremely
variable both in individuals and races. These surprising organs, which
would have seemed merely ludicrous to the First Men, were expressive
both of temperament and passing mood. They were immense, delicately
involuted, of a silken texture, and very mobile. They gave an almost
bat-like character to the otherwise somewhat feline heads. But the
most distinctive feature of the Third Men was their great lean hands,
on which were six versatile fingers, six antennae of living steel.

Unlike their predecessors, the Third Men were short-lived. They had a
brief childhood and a brief maturity, followed (in the natural course)
by a decade of senility, and death at about sixty. But such was their
abhorrence of decrepitude, that they seldom allowed themselves to grow
old. They preferred to kill themselves when their mental and physical
agility began to decline. Thus, save in exceptional epochs of their
history, very few lived to be fifty.

But though in some respects the third human species fell short of the
high standard of its predecessor, especially in certain of the finer
mental capacities, it was by no means simply degenerate. The admirable
sensory equipment of the second species was retained, and even
improved. Vision was no less ample and precise and colourful. Touch
was far more discriminate, especially in the delicately pointed sixth
finger-tip. Hearing was so developed that a man could run through
wooded country blind-fold without colliding with the trees. Moreover
the great range of sounds and rhythms had acquired an extremely subtle
gamut of emotional significance. Music was therefore one of the main
preoccupations of the civilizations of this species.

Mentally the Third Men were indeed very unlike their predecessors.
Their intelligence was in some ways no less agile; but it was more
cunning than intellectual, more practical than theoretical. They were
interested more in the world of sense-experience than in the world of
abstract reason, and again far more in living things than in the
lifeless. They excelled in certain kinds of art, and indeed also in
some fields of science. But they were led into science more through
practical, aesthetic or religious needs than through intellectual
curiosity. In mathematics, for instance (helped greatly by the
duodecimal system, which resulted from their having twelve fingers),
they became wonderful calculators; yet they never had the curiosity to
inquire into the essential nature of number. Nor, in physics, were
they ever led to discover the more obscure properties of space. They
were, indeed, strangely devoid of curiosity. Hence, though sometimes
capable of a penetrating mystical intuition, they never seriously
disciplined themselves under philosophy, nor tried to relate their
mystical intuitions with the rest of their experience.

In their primitive phases the Third Men were keen hunters; but also,
owing to their strong parental impulses, they were much addicted to
making pets of captured animals. Throughout their career they
displayed what earlier races would have called an uncanny sympathy
with, and understanding of, all kinds of animals and plants. This
intuitive insight into the nature of living things, and this untiring
interest in the diversity of vital behaviour, constituted the
dominating impulse throughout the whole career of the third human
species. At the outset they excelled not only as hunters but as
herdsmen and domesticators. By nature they were very apt in every kind
of manipulation, but especially in the manipulation of living things.
As a species they were also greatly addicted to play of all kinds, but
especially to manipulative play, and above all to the playful
manipulation of organisms. From the first they performed great feats
of riding on the moose-like deer which they had domesticated. They
tamed also a certain gregarious coursing beast. The pedigree of this
great leonine wolf led, through the tropical survivors of the Martian
plague, back to those descendants of the arctic fox which had over-run
the world after the Patagonian disaster. This animal the Third Men
trained not only to help them in shepherding and in the chase, but
also to play intricate hunting games. Between this hound and its
master or mistress there frequently arose a very special relation, a
kind of psychical symbiosis, a dumb intuitive mutual insight, a
genuine love, based on economic co-operation, but strongly toned also,
in a manner peculiar to the third human species, with religious
symbolism and frankly sexual intimacy.

As herdsmen and shepherds the Third Men very early practised selective
breeding; and increasingly they became absorbed in the perfecting and
enriching of all types of animals and plants. It was the boast of
every local chieftain not only that the men of his tribe were more
manly and the women more beautiful than all others, but also that the
bears in his territory were the noblest and most bear-like of all
bears, that the birds built more perfect nests and were more skilful
fliers and singers than birds elsewhere. And so on, through all the
animal and vegetable races.

This biological control was achieved at first by simple breeding
experiments, but later and increasingly by crude physiological
manipulation of the young animal, the foetus and (later still) the
germ-plasm. Hence arose a perennial conflict, which often caused wars
of a truly religious bitterness, between the tender-hearted, who
shrank from the infliction of pain, and the passionately manipulative,
who willed to create at whatever cost. This conflict, indeed, was
waged not only between individuals but within each mind; for all were
innately hunters and manipulators, but also all had intuitive sympathy
even with the quarry which they tormented. The trouble was increased
by a strain of sheer cruelty which occurred even in the most
tender-hearted. This sadism was at bottom an expression of an almost
mystical reverence for sensory experience. Physical pain, being the most
intense of all sensed qualities, was apt to be thought the most
excellent. It might be expected that this would lead rather to
self-torture than to cruelty. Sometimes it did. But in general those who
could not appreciate pain in their own flesh were yet able to persuade
themselves that in inflicting pain on lower animals they were creating
vivid psychic reality, and therefore high excellence. It was just the
intense reality of pain, they said, that made it intolerable to men and
animals. Seen with the detachment of the divine mind, it appeared in its
true beauty. And even man, they declared, could appreciate its
excellence when it occurred not in men but in animals.

Though the Third Men lacked interest in systematic thought, their
minds were often concerned with matters outside the fields of private
and social economy. They experienced not only aesthetic but mystical
cravings. And though they were without any appreciation of those finer
beauties of human personality, which their predecessors had admired as
the highest attainment of life on the planet, the Third Men
themselves, in their own way, sought to make the best of human nature,
and indeed of animal nature. Man they regarded in two aspects. In the
first place he was the noblest of all animals, gifted with unique
aptitudes. He was, as was sometimes said, God's chief work of art. But
secondly, since his special virtues were his insight into the nature
of all living things and his manipulative capacity, he was himself
God's eye and God's hand. These convictions were expressed over and
over again in the religions of the Third Men, by the image of the
deity as a composite animal, with wings of the albatross, jaws of the
great wolf-dog, feet of the deer, and so on. For the human element was
represented in this deity by the hands, the eyes, and the sexual
organs of man. And between the divine hands lay the world, with all
its diverse population. Often the world was represented as being the
fruit of God's primitive potency, but also as in process of being
drastically altered and tortured into perfection by the hands.

Most of the cultures of the Third Men were dominated by this obscure
worship of Life as an all-pervading spirit, expressing itself in
myriad diverse individuals. And at the same time the intuitive loyalty
to living things and to a vaguely conceived life-force was often
complicated by sadism. For in the first place it was recognized, of
course, that what is valued by higher beings may be intolerable to
lower; and, as has been said, pain itself was thought to be a superior
excellence of this kind. And again in a second manner sadism expressed
itself. The worship of Life, as agent or subject, was complemented by
worship of environment, as object to life's subjectivity, as that
which remains ever foreign to life, thwarting its enterprises,
torturing it, yet making it possible, and, by its very resistance,
goading it into nobler expressions. Pain, it was said, was the most
vivid apprehension of the sacred and universal Object.

The thought of the third human species was never systematic. But in
some such manner as the foregoing it strove to rationalize its obscure
intuition of the beauty which includes at once Life's victory and
defeat.


2. DIGRESSIONS OF THE THIRD MEN


Such, in brief, was the physical and mental nature of the third human
species. In spite of innumerable distractions, the spirit of the Third
Men kept on returning to follow up the thread of biological interest
through a thousand variegated cultures. Again and again folk after
folk would clamber out of savagery and barbarism into relative
enlightenment; and mostly, though not always, the main theme of this
enlightenment was some special mood either of biological creativeness
or of sadism, or of both. To a man born into such a society, no
dominant characteristic would be apparent. He would be impressed
rather by the many-sidedness of human activities in his time. He would
note a wealth of personal intercourse, of social organization and
industrial invention, of art and speculation, all set in that
universal matrix, the private struggle to preserve or express the
self. Yet the historian may often see in a society, over and above
this multifarious proliferation, some one controlling theme.

Again and again, then, at intervals of a few thousand or a few hundred
thousand years, man's whim was imposed upon the fauna and flora of the
earth, and at length directed to the task of remaking man himself.
Again and again, through a diversity of causes, the effort collapsed,
and the species sank once more into chaos. Sometimes indeed there was
an interlude of culture in some quite different key. Once, early in
the history of the species, and before its nature had become fixed,
there occurred a nonindustrial civilization of a genuinely
intellectual kind, almost like that of Greece. Sometimes, but not
often, the third human species fooled itself into an extravagantly
industrial world civilization, in the manner of the Americanized First
Men. In general its interest was too much concerned with other matters
to become entangled with mechanical devices. But on three occasions at
least it succumbed. Of these civilizations one derived its main power
from wind and falling water, one from the tides, one from the earth's
internal heat. The first, saved from the worst evils of industrialism
by the limitations of its power, lasted some hundred thousand years in
barren equilibrium, until it was destroyed by an obscure bacterium.
The second was fortunately brief; but its fifty thousand years of
unbridled waste of tidal energy was enough to interfere appreciably
with the orbit of the moon. This world-order collapsed at length in a
series of industrial wars. The third endured a quarter of a million
years as a brilliantly sane and efficient world organization.
Throughout most of its existence there was almost complete social
harmony with scarcely as much internal strife as occurs in a bee-hive.
But once more civilization came at length to grief, this time through
the misguided effort to breed special human types for specialized
industrial pursuits.

Industrialism, however, was never more than a digression, a lengthy
and disastrous irrelevance in the life of this species. There were
other digressions. There were for instance cultures, enduring
sometimes for several thousand years, which were predominantly
musical. This could never have occurred among the First Men; but, as
was said, the third species was peculiarly developed in hearing, and
in emotional sensitivity to sound and rhythm. Consequently, just as
the First Men at their height were led into the wilderness by an
irrational obsession with mechanical contrivances, just as the Third
Men themselves were many times undone by their own interest in
biological control, so, now and again, it was their musical gift that
hypnotized them.

Of these predominantly musical cultures the most remarkable was one in
which music and religion combined to form a tyranny no less rigid than
that of religion and science in the remote past. It is worth while to
dwell on one of these episodes for a few moments.

The Third Men were very subject to a craving for personal immortality.
Their lives were brief, their love of life intense. It seemed to them
a tragic flaw in the nature of existence that the melody of the
individual life must either fade into a dreary senility or be cut
short, never to be repeated. Now music had a special significance for
this race. So intense was their experience of it, that they were ready
to regard it as in some manner the underlying reality of all things.
In leisure hours, snatched from a toilful and often tragic life,
groups of peasants would seek to conjure about them by song or pipe or
viol a universe more beautiful, more real, than that of daily labour.
Concentrating their sensitive hearing upon the inexhaustible diversity
of tone and rhythm, they would seem to themselves to be possessed by
the living presence of music, and to be transported thereby into a
lovelier world. No wonder they believed that every melody was a
spirit, leading a life of its own within the universe of music. No
wonder they imagined that a symphony or chorus was itself a single
spirit inhering in all its members. No wonder it seemed to them that
when men and women listened to great music, the barriers of their
individuality were broken down, so that they became one soul through
communion with the music.

The prophet was born in a highland village where the native faith in
music was intense, though quite unformulated. In time he learnt to
raise his peasant audiences to the most extravagant joy and the most
delicious sorrow. Then at last he began to think, and to expound his
thoughts with the authority of a great bard. Easily he persuaded men
that music was the reality, and all else illusion, that the living
spirit of the universe was pure music, and that each individual animal
and man, though he had a body that must die and vanish for ever, had
also a soul that was music and eternal. A melody, he said, is the most
fleeting of things. It happens and ceases. The great silence devours
it, and seemingly annihilates it. Passage is essential to its being.
Yet though for a melody, to halt is to die a violent death, all music,
the prophet affirmed, has also eternal life. After silence it may
occur again, with all its freshness and aliveness. Time cannot age it;
for its home is in a country outside time. And that country, thus the
young musician earnestly preached, is also the home land of every man
and woman, nay of every living thing that has any gift of music. Those
who seek immortality, must strive to waken their tranced souls into
melody and harmony. And according to their degree of musical
originality and proficiency will be their standing in the eternal
life.

The doctrine, and the impassioned melodies of the prophet, spread like
fire. Instrumental and vocal music sounded from every pasture and corn
plot. The government tried to suppress it, partly because it was
thought to interfere with agricultural productivity, largely because
its passionate significance reverberated even in the hearts of courtly
ladies, and threatened to undo the refinement of centuries. Nay, the
social order itself began to crumble. For many began openly to declare
that what mattered was not aristocratic birth, nor even proficiency in
the time-honoured musical forms (so much prized by the leisured), but
the gift of spontaneous emotional expression in rhythm and harmony.
Persecution strengthened the new faith with a glorious company of
martyrs who, it was affirmed, sang triumphantly even in the flames.

One day the sacred monarch himself, hitherto a prisoner within the
conventions, declared half sincerely, half by policy, that he was
converted to his people's faith. Bureaucracy gave place to an
enlightened dictatorship, the monarch assumed the title of Supreme
Melody, and the whole social order was re-fashioned, more to the taste
of the peasants. The subtle prince, backed by the crusading zeal of
his people, and favoured by the rapid spontaneous spread of the faith
in all lands, conquered the whole world, and founded the Universal
Church of Harmony. The prophet himself, meanwhile, dismayed by his own
too facile success, had retired into the mountains to perfect his art
under the influence of their great quiet, or the music of wind,
thunder and waterfall. Presently, however, the silence of the fells
was shattered by the blare of military bands and ecclesiastical
choirs, which the emperor had sent to salute him and conduct him to
the metropolis. He was secured, though not without a scrimmage, and
lodged in the High Temple of Music. There he was kept a prisoner,
dubbed God's Big Noise, and used by the world-government as an oracle
needing interpretation. In a few years the official music of the
temple, and of deputations from all over the world, drove him into
raving madness; in which state he was the more useful to the
authorities.

Thus was founded the Holy Empire of Music, which gave order and
purpose to the species for a thousand years. The sayings of the
prophet, interpreted by a series of able rulers, became the foundation
of a great system of law which gradually supplanted all local codes by
virtue of its divine authority. Its root was madness; but its final
expression was intricate common sense, decorated with harmless and
precious flowers of folly. Throughout, the individual was wisely, but
tacitly, regarded as a biological organism having definite needs or
rights and definite social obligations; but the language in which this
principle was expressed and elaborated was a jargon based on the
fiction that every human being was a melody, demanding completion
within a greater musical theme of society.

Toward the close of this millennium of order a schism occurred among
the devout. A new and fervent sect declared that the true spirit of
the musical religion had been stifled by ecclesiasticism. The founder
of the religion had preached salvation by individual musical
experience, by an intensely emotional communion with the Divine Music.
But little by little, so it was said, the church had lost sight of
this central truth, and had substituted a barren interest in the
objective forms and principles of melody and counterpoint. Salvation,
in the official view, was not to be had by subjective experience, but
by keeping the rules of an obscure musical technique. And what was
this technique? Instead of making the social order a practical
expression of the divine law of music, churchmen and statesmen had
misinterpreted these divine laws to suit mere social convenience,
until the true spirit of music had been lost. Meanwhile on the other
side a counter-revival took place. The self-centred and soul-saving
mood of the rebels was ridiculed. Men were urged to care rather for
the divine and exquisitely ordered forms of music itself than for
their own emotion.

It was amongst the rebel peoples that the biological interest of the
race, hitherto subordinate, came into its own. Mating, at least among
the more devout sort of women, began to be influenced by the desire to
have children who should be of outstanding musical brilliance and
sensitivity. Biological sciences were rudimentary, but the general
principle of selective breeding was known. Within a century this
policy of breeding for music, or breeding "soul," developed from a
private idiosyncrasy into a racial obsession. It was so far successful
that after a while a new type became common, and thrived upon the
approbation and devotion of ordinary persons. These new beings were
indeed extravagantly sensitive to music, so much so that the song of a
sky-lark caused them serious torture by its banality, and in response
to any human music of the kind which they approved, they invariably
fell into a trance. Under the stimulus of music which was not to their
taste they were apt to run amok and murder the performers.

We need not pause to trace the stages by which an infatuated race
gradually submitted itself to the whims of these creatures of human
folly, until for a brief period they became the tyrannical ruling
caste of a musical theocracy. Nor need we observe how they reduced
society to chaos; and how at length an age of confusion and murder
brought mankind once more to its senses, but also into so bitter a
disillusionment that the effort to re-orientate the whole direction of
its endeavour lacked determination. Civilization fell to pieces and
was not rebuilt till after the race had lain fallow for some thousands
of years.

So ended perhaps the most pathetic of racial delusions. Born of a
genuine and potent aesthetic experience, it retained a certain crazy
nobility even to the end.

Many scores of other cultures occurred, separated often by long ages
of barbarism, but they must be ignored in this brief chronicle. The
great majority of them were mainly biological in spirit. Thus one was
dominated by an obsessive interest in flight, and therefore in birds,
another by the concept of metabolism, several by sexual creativity,
and very many by some general but mostly unenlightened policy of
eugenics. All these we must pass over, so that we may descend to watch
the greatest of all the races of the third species torture itself into
a new form.


3. THE VITAL ART


It was after an unusually long period of eclipse that the spirit of
the third human species attained its greatest brilliance. We need not
watch the stages by which this enlightenment was reached. Suffice it
that the upshot was a very remarkable civilization, if such a word can
be applied to an order in which agglomerations of architecture were
unknown, clothing was used only when needed for warmth, and such
industrial development as occurred was wholly subordinated to other
activities.

Early in the history of this culture the requirements of hunting and
agriculture, and the spontaneous impulse to manipulate live things,
gave rise to a primitive but serviceable system of biological
knowledge. Not until the culture had unified the whole planet, did
biology itself give rise to chemistry and physics. At the same time a
well-controlled industrialism, based first on wind and water, and
later on subterranean heat, afforded the race all the material
luxuries it desired, and much leisure from the business of keeping
itself in existence. Had there not already existed a more powerful and
all-dominating interest, industrialism itself would probably have
hypnotized the race, as it had so many others. But in this race the
interest in live things, which characterized the whole species, was
dominant before industrialism began. Egotism among the Third Men could
not be satisfied by the exercise of economic power, nor by the mere
ostentation of wealth. Not that the race was immune from egotism. On
the contrary, it had lost almost all that spontaneous altruism which
had distinguished the Second Men. But in most periods the only kind of
personal ostentation which appealed to the Third Men was directly
connected with the primitive interest in "pecunia." To own many and
noble beasts, whether they were economically productive or not, was
ever the mark of respectability. The vulgar, indeed, were content with
mere numbers, or at most with the conventional virtues of the
recognized breeds. But the more refined pursued, and flaunted, certain
very exact principles of aesthetic excellence in their control of
living forms.

In fact, as the race gained biological insight, it developed a very
remarkable new art, which we may call "plastic vital art." This was to
become the chief vehicle of expression of the new culture. It was
practised universally, and with religious fervour; for it was very
closely connected with the belief in a life-god. The canons of this
art, and the precepts of this religion, fluctuated from age to age,
but in general certain basic principles were accepted. Or rather,
though there was almost always universal agreement that the practice
of vital art was the supreme goal, and should not be treated in a
utilitarian spirit, there were two conflicting sets of principles
which were favoured by opposed sets. One mode of vital art sought to
evoke the full potentiality of each natural type as a harmonious and
perfected nature, or to produce new types equally harmonious. The
other prided itself on producing monsters. Sometimes a single capacity
was developed at the expense of the harmony and welfare of the
organism as a whole. Thus a bird was produced which could fly faster
than any other bird; but it could neither reproduce nor even feed, and
therefore had to be maintained artificially. Sometimes, on the other
hand, certain characters incompatible in nature were forced upon a
single organism, and maintained in precarious and torturing
equilibrium. To give examples, one much-talked-of feat was the
production of a carnivorous mammal in which the fore limbs had assumed
the structure of a bird's wings, complete with feathers. This creature
could not fly, since its body was wrongly proportioned. Its only mode
of locomotion was a staggering run with outstretched wings. Other
examples of monstrosity were an eagle with twin heads, and a deer in
which, with incredible ingenuity, the artists had induced the tail to
develop as a head, with brain, sense organs, and jaws. In this
monstrous art, interest in living things was infected with sadism
through the preoccupation with fate, especially internal fate, as the
divinity that shapes our ends. In its more vulgar forms, of course, it
was a crude expression of egotistical lust in power.

This _motif_ of the monstrous and the self-discrepant was less
prominent than the other, the _motif_ of harmonious perfection; but at
all times it was apt to exercise at least a subconscious influence.
The supreme aim of the dominant, perfection-seeking movement was to
embellish the planet with a very diverse fauna and flora, with the
human race as at once the crown and the instrument of terrestrial
life. Each species, and each variety, was to have its place and fulfil
its part in the great cycle of living types. Each was to be internally
perfected to its function. It must have no harmful relics of a past
manner of life; and its capacities must be in true accord with one
another. But, to repeat, the supreme aim was not concerned merely with
individual types, but with the whole vital economy of the planet.
Thus, though there were to be types of every order from the most
humble bacterium up to man, it was contrary to the canon of orthodox
sacred art that any type should thrive by the destruction of a type
higher than itself. In the sadistic mode of the art, however, a
peculiarly exquisite tragic beauty was said to inhere in situations in
which a lowly type exterminated a higher. There were occasions in the
history of the race when the two sects indulged in bloody conflict
because the sadists kept devising parasites to undermine the noble
products of the orthodox.

Of those who practised vital art, and all did so to some extent, a
few, though they deliberately rejected the orthodox principles, gained
notoriety and even fame by their grotesques; while others, less
fortunate, were ready to accept ostracism and even martyrdom,
declaring that what they had produced was a significant symbol of the
universal tragedy of vital nature. The great majority, however,
accepted the sacred canon. They had therefore to choose one or other
of certain recognized modes of expression. For instance, they might
seek to enhance some extant type of organism, both by perfecting its
capacities and by eliminating from it all that was harmful or useless.
Or else, a more original and precarious work, they might set about
creating a new type to fill a niche in the world, which had not yet
been occupied. For this end they would select a suitable organism, and
seek to remake it upon a new plan, striving to produce a creature of
perfectly harmonious nature precisely adapted to the new way of life.
In this kind of work sundry strict aesthetic principles must be
observed. Thus it was considered bad art to reduce a higher type to a
lower, or in any manner to waste the capacities of a type. And
further, since the true end of art was not the production of
individual types, but the production of a world-wide and perfectly
systematic fauna and flora, it was inadmissible to harm even
accidentally any type higher than that which it was intended to
produce. For the practice of orthodox vital art was regarded as a
co-operative enterprise. The ultimate artist, under God, was mankind as a
whole; the ultimate work of art must be an ever more subtle garment of
living forms for the adornment of the planet, and the delight of the
supreme Artist, in relation to whom man was both creature and
instrument.

Little was achieved, of course, until the applied biological sciences
had advanced far beyond the high-water mark attained long ago during
the career of the Second Men. Much more was needed than the
rule-of-thumb principles of earlier breeders. It took this brightest of all
the races of the third species many thousands of years of research to
discover the more delicate principles of heredity, and to devise a
technique by which the actual hereditary factors in the germ could be
manipulated. It was this increasing penetration of biology itself that
opened up the deeper regions of chemistry and physics. And owing to
this historical sequence the latter sciences were conceived in a
biological manner, with the electron as the basic organism, and the
cosmos as an organic whole.

Imagine, then, a planet organized almost as a vast system of botanical
and zoological gardens, or wild parks, interspersed with agriculture
and industry. In every great centre of communications occurred annual
and monthly shows. The latest creations were put through their paces,
judged by the high priests of vital art, awarded distinctions, and
consecrated with religious ceremony. At these shows some of the
exhibits would be utilitarian, others purely aesthetic. There might be
improved grains, vegetables, cattle, some exceptionally intelligent or
sturdy variety of herdsman's dog, or a new micro-organism with some
special function in agriculture or in human digestion. But also there
would be the latest achievements in pure vital art. Great sleek-limbed,
hornless, racing deer, birds or mammals adapted to some
hitherto unfulfilled role, bears intended to outclass all existing
varieties in the struggle for existence, ants with specialized organs
and instincts, improvements in the relations of parasite and host, so
as to make a true symbiosis in which the host profited by the
parasite. And so on. And everywhere there would be the little unclad
ruddy faun-like beings who had created these marvels. Shy
forest-dwelling folk of Gurkha physique would stand beside their antelopes,
vultures, or new great cat-like prowlers. A grave young woman might
cause a stir by entering the grounds followed by several gigantic
bears. Crowds would perhaps press round to examine the creatures'
teeth or limbs, and she might scold the meddlers away from her patient
flock. For the normal relation between man and beast at this time was
one of perfect amity, rising, sometimes, in the case of domesticated
animals, to an exquisite, almost painful, mutual adoration. Even the
wild beasts never troubled to avoid man, still less to attack him,
save in the special circumstances of the hunt and the sacred
gladiatorial show.

These last need special notice. The powers of combat in beasts were
admired no less than other powers. Men and women alike experienced a
savage joy, almost an ecstasy, in the spectacle of mortal combat.
Consequently there were formal occasions when different kinds of
beasts were enraged against one another and allowed to fight to the
death. Not only so, but also there were sacred contests between beast
and man, between man and man, between woman and woman, and, most
surprising to the readers of this book, between woman and man. For in
this species, woman in her prime was not physically weaker than her
partner.


4. CONFLICTING POLICIES


Almost from the first, vital art had been applied to some extent to
man himself, though with hesitation. Certain great improvements had
been effected, but only improvements about which there could be no two
opinions. The many diseases and abnormalities left over from past
civilizations were patiently abolished, and various more fundamental
defects were remedied. For instance, teeth, digestion, glandular
equipment and the circulatory system were greatly improved. Extreme
good health and considerable physical beauty became universal.
Child-bearing was made a painless and health-giving process. Senility was
postponed. The standard of practical intelligence was appreciably
raised. These reforms were made possible by a vast concerted effort of
research and experiment supported by the world community. But private
enterprise was also effective, for the relation between the sexes was
much more consciously dominated by the thought of offspring than among
the First Men. Every individual knew the characteristics of his or her
hereditary composition, and knew what kinds of offspring were to be
expected from intercourse of different hereditary types. Thus in
courtship the young man was not content to persuade his beloved that
his mind was destined by nature to afford her mind joyful completion;
he sought also to persuade her that with his help she might bear
children of a peculiar excellence. Consequently there was at all times
going on a process of selective breeding towards the conventionally
ideal type. In certain respects the ideal remained constant for many
thousands of years. It included health, cat-like agility, manipulative
dexterity, musical sensitivity, refined perception of rightness and
wrongness in the sphere of vital art, and an intuitive practical
judgment in all the affairs of life. Longevity, and the abolition of
senility, were also sought, and partially attained. Waves of fashion
sometimes directed sexual selection toward prowess in combat, or some
special type of facial expression or vocal powers. But these fleeting
whims were negligible. Only the permanently desired characters were
actually intensified by private selective breeding.

But at length there came a time when more ambitious aims were
entertained. The world-community was now a highly organized theocratic
hierarchy, strictly but on the whole benevolently ruled by a supreme
council of vital priests and biologists. Each individual, down to the
humblest agricultural worker, had his special niche in society,
allotted him by the supreme council or its delegates, according to his
known heredity and the needs of society. This system, of course,
sometimes led to abuse, but mostly it worked without serious friction.
Such was the precision of biological knowledge that each person's
mental calibre and special aptitudes were known beyond dispute, and
rebellion against his lot in society would have been rebellion against
his own heredity. This fact was universally known, and accepted
without regret. A man had enough scope for emulation and triumph among
his peers, without indulging in vague attempts to transcend his own
nature, by rising into a superior hierarchical order. This state of
affairs would have been impossible had there not been universal faith
in the religion of life and the truth of biological science. Also it
would have been impossible had not all normal persons been active
practitioners of the sacred vital art, upon a plane suited to their
capacity. Every individual adult of the rather scanty world-population
regarded himself or herself as a creative artist, in however humble a
sphere. And in general he, or she, was so fascinated by the work, that
he was well content to leave social organization and control to those
who were fitted for it. Moreover, at the back of every mind was the
conception of society itself as an organism of specialized members.
The strong sentiment for organized humanity tended, in this race, to
master even its strong egotistical impulses, though not without a
struggle.

It was such a society, almost unbelievable to the First Men, that now
set about remaking human nature. Unfortunately there were conflicting
views about the goal. The orthodox desired only to continue the work
that had for long been on foot; though they proposed greater
enterprise and co-ordination. They would perfect man's body, but upon
its present plan; they would perfect his mind, but without seeking to
introduce anything new in essence. His physique, percipience, memory,
intelligence and emotional nature, should be improved almost beyond
recognition; but they must, it was said, remain essentially what they
always had been.

A second party, however, finally persuaded orthodox opinion to amplify
itself in one important respect. As has already been said, the Third
Men were prone to phases of preoccupation with the ancient craving for
personal immortality. This craving had often been strong among the
First Men; and even the Second Men, in spite of their great gift of
detachment, had sometimes allowed their admiration for human
personality to persuade them that souls must live for ever.
The short-lived and untheoretical Third Men, with their passion for living
things of all kinds, and all the diversity of vital behaviour,
conceived immortality in a variety of manners. In their final culture
they imagined that at death all living things whom the Life God
approved passed into another world, much like the familiar world, but
happier. There they were said to live in the presence of the deity,
serving him in untrammelled vital creativeness of sundry kinds.

Now it was believed that communication might occur between the two
worlds, and that the highest type of terrestrial life was that which
communicated most effectively, and further that the time had now
arrived for much fuller revelation of the life to come. It was
therefore proposed to breed highly specialized communicants whose
office should be to guide this world by means of advice from the
other. As among the First Men, this communication with the unseen
world was believed to take place in the mediumistic trance. The new
enterprise, then, was to breed extremely sensitive mediums, and to
increase the mediumistic powers of the average individual.

There was yet another party, whose aim was very different. Man, they
said, is a very noble organism. We have dealt with other organisms so
as to enhance in each its noblest attributes. It is time to do the
same with man. What is most distinctive in man is intelligent
manipulation, brain and hand. Now hand is really outclassed by modern
mechanisms, but brain will never be outclassed. Therefore we must
breed strictly for brain, for intelligent co-ordination of behaviour.
All the organic functions which can be performed by machinery, must be
relegated to machinery, so that the whole vitality of the organism may
be devoted to brain-building and brain-working. We must produce an
organism which shall be no mere bundle of relics left over from its
primitive ancestors and precariously ruled by a glimmer of
intelligence. We must produce a man who is nothing but man. When we
have done this we can, if we like, ask him to find out the truth about
immortality. And also, we can safely surrender to him the control of
all human affairs.

The governing caste were strongly opposed to this policy. They
declared that, if it succeeded, it would only produce a most
inharmonious being whose nature would violate all the principles of
vital aesthetics. Man, they said, was essentially an animal, though
uniquely gifted. His whole nature must be developed, not one faculty
at the expense of others. In arguing thus, they were probably
influenced partly by the fear of losing their authority; but their
arguments were cogent, and the majority of the community agreed with
them. Nevertheless a small group of the governors themselves were
determined to carry through the enterprise in secret.

There was no need of secrecy in breeding communicants. The world state
encouraged this policy and even set up institutions for its pursuit.



CHAPTER XI. MAN REMAKES HIMSELF


1. THE FIRST OF THE GREAT BRAINS


Those who sought to produce a super-brain embarked upon a great
enterprise of research and experiment in a remote corner of the
planet. It is unnecessary to tell in detail how they fared. Working
first in secret, they later strove to persuade the world to approve of
their scheme, but only succeeded in dividing mankind into two parties.
The body politic was torn asunder. There were religious wars. But
after a few centuries of intermittent bloodshed the two sects, those
who sought to produce communicants and those who sought the
super-brain, settled down in different regions to pursue their respective
aims unmolested. In time each developed into a kind of nation, united
by a religious faith and crusading spirit. There was little cultural
intercourse between the two.

Those who desired to produce the super-brain employed four methods,
namely selective breeding, manipulation of the hereditary factors in
germ cells (cultivated in the laboratory), manipulation of the
fertilized ovum (cultivated also in the laboratory), and manipulation
of the growing body. At first they produced innumerable tragic
abortions. These we need not observe. But at length, several thousand
years after the earliest experiments, something was produced which
seemed to promise success. A human ovum had been carefully selected,
fertilized in the laboratory, and largely reorganized by artificial
means. By inhibiting the growth of the embryo's body, and the lower
organs of the brain itself, and at the same time greatly stimulating
the growth of the cerebral hemispheres, the dauntless experimenters
succeeded at last in creating an organism which consisted of a brain
twelve feet across, and a body most of which was reduced to a mere
vestige upon the under-surface of the brain. The only parts of the
body which were allowed to attain the natural size were the arms and
hands. These sinewy organs of manipulation were induced to key
themselves at the shoulders into the solid masonry which formed the
creature's house. Thus they were able to get a purchase for their
work. The hands were the normal six-fingered hands of the Third Men,
very greatly enlarged and improved. The fantastic organism was
generated and matured in a building designed to house both it and the
complicated machinery which was necessary to keep it alive. A
self-regulating pump, electrically driven, served it as a heart. A chemical
factory poured the necessary materials into its blood and removed
waste products, thus taking the place of digestive organs and the
normal battery of glands. Its lungs consisted of a great room full of
oxidizing tubes, through which a constant wind was driven by an
electric fan. The same fan forced air through the artificial organs of
speech. These organs were so constructed that the natural nerve-fibres,
issuing from the speech centres of the brain, could stimulate
appropriate electrical controls so as to produce sounds identical with
those which they would have produced from a living throat and mouth.
The sensory equipment of this trunkless brain was a blend of the
natural and the artificial. The optic nerves were induced to grow out
along two flexible probosces, five feet long, each of which bore a
huge eye at the end. But by a very ingenious alteration of the
structure of the eye, the natural lens could be moved aside at will,
so that the retina could be applied to any of a great diversity of
optical instruments. The ears also could be projected upon stalks, and
were so arranged that the actual nerve endings could be brought into
contact with artificial resonators of various kinds, or could listen
directly to the microscopic rhythms of the most minute organisms.
Scent and taste were developed as a chemical sense, which could
distinguish almost all compounds and elements by their flavour.
Pressure, warmth and cold were detected only by the fingers, but there
with great subtlety. Sensory pain was to have been eliminated from the
organism altogether; but this end was not achieved.

The creature was successfully launched upon life, and was actually
kept alive for four years. But though at first all went well, in his
second year the unfortunate child, if such he may be called, began to
suffer severe pain, and to show symptoms of mental derangement. In
spite of all that his devoted foster-parents could do, he gradually
sank into insanity and died. He had succumbed to his own brain weight
and to certain failures in the chemical regulation of his blood.

We may overlook the next four hundred years, during which sundry vain
attempts were made to repeat the great experiment more successfully.
Let us pass on to the first true individual of the fourth human
species. He was produced in the same artificial manner as his
forerunners, and was designed upon the same general plan. His
mechanical and chemical machinery, however, was far more efficient;
and his makers expected that, owing to careful adjustments of the
mechanisms of growth and decay, he would prove to be immortal. His
general plan, also, was changed in one important respect. His makers
built a large circular "brain-turret" which they divided with many
partitions, radiating from a central space, and covered everywhere
with pigeon-holes. By a technique which took centuries to develop,
they induced the cells of the growing embryonic brain to spread
outwards, not as normal hemispheres of convolutions, but into the
pigeon-holes which had been prepared for them. Thus the artificial
"cranium" had to be a roomy turret of ferro-concrete some forty feet
in diameter. A door and a passage led from the outer world into the
centre of the turret, and thence other passages radiated between tiers
of little cupboards. Innumerable tubes of glass, metal and a kind of
vulcanite conveyed blood and chemicals over the whole system. Electric
radiators preserved an even warmth in every cupboard, and throughout
the innumerable carefully protected channels of the nerve-fibres.
Thermometers, dials, pressure gauges, indicators of all sorts,
informed the attendants of every physical change in this strange
half-natural, half-artificial system, this preposterous factory of mind.

Eight years after its inception the organism had filled its brain
room, and attained the mentality of a new-born infant. His advance to
maturity seemed to his foster-parents dishearteningly slow. Not till
almost at the end of his fifth decade could he be said to have reached
the mental standard of a bright adolescent. But there was no real
reason for disappointment. Within another decade this pioneer of the
Fourth Men had learned all that the Third Men could teach him, and had
also seen that a great part of their wisdom was folly. In manual
dexterity he could already vie with the best; but though manipulation
afforded him intense delight, he used his hands almost wholly in
service of his tireless curiosity. In fact, it was evident that
curiosity was his main characteristic. He was a huge bump of curiosity
equipped with most cunning hands. A department of state had been
created to look after his nurture and education. An army of learned
persons was kept in readiness to answer his impatient questions and
assist him in his own scientific experiments. Now that he had attained
maturity these unfortunate pundits found themselves hopelessly
outclassed, and reduced to mere clerks, bottle-washers and
errand-boys. Hundreds of his servants were for ever scurrying into every
corner of the planet to seek information and specimens; and the
significance of their errands was by now often quite beyond the range
of their own intelligence. They were careful, however, not to let
their ignorance appear to the public. On the contrary, they succeeded
in gaining much prestige from the mere mysteriousness of their
errands.

The great brain was wholly lacking in all normal instinctive
responses, save curiosity and constructiveness. Instinctive fear he
knew not, though of course he was capable of cold caution in any
circumstances which threatened to damage him and hinder his passionate
research. Anger he knew not, but only an adamantine firmness in the
face of opposition. Normal hunger and thirst he knew not, but only an
experience of faintness when his blood was not properly supplied with
nutriment. Sex was wholly absent from his mentality. Instinctive
tenderness and instinctive group-feeling were not possible to him, for
he was without the bowels of mercy. The heroic devotion of his most
intimate servants called forth no gratitude, but only cold approval.

At first he interested himself not at all in the affairs of the
society which maintained him, served his every whim, and adored him.
But in time he began to take pleasure in suggesting brilliant
solutions of all the current problems of social organization. His
advice was increasingly sought and accepted. He became autocrat of the
state. His own intelligence and complete detachment combined with the
people's superstitious reverence to establish him far more securely
than any ordinary tyrant. He cared nothing for the petty troubles of
his people, but he was determined to be served by a harmonious,
healthy and potent race. And as relaxation from the more serious
excitement of research in physics and astronomy, the study of human
nature was not without attractions. It may seem strange that one so
completely devoid of human sympathy could have the tact to govern a
race of the emotional Third Men. But he had built up for himself a
very accurate behaviouristic psychology; and like the skilful master
of animals, he knew unerringly how much could be expected of his
people, even though their emotions were almost wholly foreign to him.
Thus, for instance, while he thoroughly despised their admiration of
animals and plants, and their religion of life, he soon learned not to
seem hostile to these obsessions, but rather to use them for his own
ends. He himself was interested in animals only as material for
experiments. In this respect his people readily helped him, partly
because he assured them that his goal was the further improvement of
all types, partly because they were fascinated by his complete
disregard, in his experimentation, of the common technique for
preventing pain. The orgy of vicarious suffering awakened in his
people the long-suppressed lust in cruelty which, in spite of their
intuitive insight into animal nature, was so strong a factor in the
third human species.

Little by little the great brain probed the material universe and the
universe of mentality. He mastered the principles of biological
evolution, and constructed for his own delight a detailed history of
life on earth. He learned, by marvellous archaeological technique, the
story of all the earlier human peoples, and of the Martian episode,
matters which had remained hidden from the Third Men. He discovered
the principles of relativity and the quantum theory, the nature of the
atom as a complex system of wave trains. He measured the cosmos; and
with his delicate instruments he counted the planetary systems in many
of the remote universes. He casually solved, to his own satisfaction
at least, the ancient problems of good and evil, of mind and its
object, of the one and the many, and of truth and error. He created
many new departments of state for the purpose of recording his
discoveries in an artificial language which he devised for the
purpose. Each department consisted of many colleges of carefully bred
and educated specialists who could understand the subject of their own
department to some extent. But the co-ordination of all, and true
insight into each, lay with the great brain alone.


2. THE TRAGEDY OF THE FOURTH MEN


When some three thousand years had passed since his beginning, the
unique individual determined to create others of his kind. Not that he
suffered from loneliness. Not that he yearned for love, or even for
intellectual companionship. But solely for the undertaking of more
profound research, he needed the co-operation of beings of his own
mental stature. He therefore designed, and had built in various
regions of the planet, turrets and factories like his own, though
greatly improved. Into each he sent, by his servants, a cell of his
own vestigial body, and directed how it should be cultivated so as to
produce a new individual. At the same time he caused far-reaching
operations to be performed upon himself, so that he should be remade
upon a more ample plan. Of the new capacities which he inculcated in
himself and his progeny the most important was direct sensitivity to
radiation. This was achieved by incorporating in each brain tissue a
specially bred strain of Martian parasites. These henceforth were to
live in the great brain as integral members of each one of its cells.
Each brain was also equipped with a powerful wireless transmitting
apparatus. Thus should the widely scattered sessile population
maintain direct "telepathic" contact with one another.

The undertaking was successfully accomplished. Some ten thousand of
these new individuals, each specialized for his particular locality
and office, now constituted the Fourth Men. On the highest mountains
were super-astronomers with vast observatories, whose instruments were
partly artificial, partly natural excrescences of their own brains. In
the very entrails of the planet others, specially adapted to heat,
studied the subterranean forces, and were kept in "telepathic" union
with the astronomers. In the tropics, in the Arctic, in the forests,
the deserts, and on the ocean floor, the Fourth Men indulged their
immense curiosity; and in the homeland, around the father of the race,
a group of great buildings housed a hundred individuals. In the
service of this world-wide population, those races of Third Men which
had originally co-operated to produce the new human species, tilled
the land, tended the cattle, manufactured the immense material
requisites of the new civilization, and satisfied their spirits with
an ever more stereotyped ritual of their ancient vital art. This
degradation of the whole race to a menial position had occurred
slowly, imperceptibly. But the result was none the less irksome.
Occasionally there were sparks of rebellion, but they always failed to
kindle serious trouble; for the prestige and persuasiveness of the
Fourth Men were irresistible.

At length, however, a crisis occurred. For some three thousand years
the Fourth Men had pursued their research with constant success, but
latterly progress had been slow. It was becoming increasingly
difficult to devise new lines of research. True, there was still much
detail to be filled in, even in their knowledge of their own planet,
and very much in their knowledge of the stars. But there was no
prospect of opening up entirely new fields which might throw some
light on the essential nature of things. Indeed, it began to dawn on
them that they had scarcely plumbed a surface ripple of the ocean of
mystery. Their knowledge seemed to them perfectly systematic, yet
wholly enigmatic. They had a growing sense that though in a manner
they knew almost everything, they really knew nothing.

The normal mind, when it experiences intellectual frustration, can
seek recreation in companionship, or physical exercise, or art. But
for the Fourth Men there was no such escape. These activities were
impossible and meaningless to them. The Great Brains were
whole-heartedly interested in the objective world, but solely as a vast
stimulus to intellection, never for its own sake. They admired only
the intellective process itself and the interpretative formulae and
principles which it devised. They cared no more for men and women than
for material in a test-tube, no more for one another than for
mechanical calculators. Nay, of each one of them it might almost be
said that he cared even for himself solely as an instrument of
knowing. Many of the species had actually sacrificed their sanity,
even in some cases their lives, to the obsessive lust of intellection.

As the sense of frustration became more and more oppressive, the
Fourth Men suffered more and more from the one-sidedness of their
nature. Though so completely dispassionate while their intellectual
life proceeded smoothly, now that it was thwarted they began to be
confused by foolish whims and cravings which they disguised from
themselves under a cloak of excuses. Sessile and incapable of
affection, they continually witnessed the free movement, the group
life, the love-making of their menials. Such activities became an
offence to them, and filled them with a cold jealousy, which it was
altogether beneath their dignity to notice. The affairs of the
serf-population began to be conducted by their masters with less than the
accustomed justice. Serious grievances arose.

The climax occurred in connexion with a great revival of research,
which, it was said, would break down the impalpable barriers and set
knowledge in progress again. The Great Brains were to be multiplied a
thousandfold, and the resources of the whole planet were to be devoted
far more strictly than before to the crusade of intellection. The
menial Third Men would therefore have to put up with more work and
less pleasure. Formerly they would willingly have accepted this fate
for the glory of serving the super-human brains. But the days of their
blind devotion was past. It was murmured among them that the great
experiment of their forefathers had proved a great disaster, and that
the Fourth Men, the Great Brains, in spite of their devilish cunning,
were mere abortions.

Matters came to a head when the tyrants announced that all useless
animals must be slaughtered, since their upkeep was too great an
economic burden upon the world-community. The vital art, moreover, was
to be practised in future only by the Great Brains themselves. This
announcement threw the Third Men into violent excitement, and divided
them into two parties. Many of those whose lives were spent in direct
service of the Great Brains favoured implicit obedience, though even
these were deeply distressed. The majority, on the other hand,
absolutely refused to permit the impious slaughter, or even to
surrender their privileges as vital artists. For, they said, to kill
off the fauna of the planet would be to violate the fair form of the
universe by blotting out many of its most beautiful features. It would
be an outrage to the Life-God, and he would surely avenge it. They
therefore urged that the time was come for all true human beings to
stand together and depose the tyrants. And this, they pointed out,
could easily be done. It was only necessary to cut a few electric
cables, connecting the Great Brains with the subterranean generating
stations. The electric pumps would then cease to supply the
brain-turrets with aerated blood. Or, in the few cases in which the Great
Brains were so located that they could control their own source of
power in wind or water, it was necessary merely to refrain from
transporting food to their digestion-laboratories.

The personal attendants of the Great Brains shrank from such action;
for their whole lives had been devoted, proudly and even in a manner
lovingly, to service of the revered beings. But the agriculturists
determined to withhold supplies. The Great Brains, therefore, armed
their servitors with a diversity of ingenious weapons. Immense
destruction was done; but since the rebels were decimated, there were
not enough hands to work the fields. Some of the Great Brains, and
many of their servants, actually died of starvation. And as hardship
increased, the servants themselves began to drift over to the rebels.
It now seemed certain to the Third Men that the Great Brains would
very soon be impotent, and the planet once more under the control of
natural beings. But the tyrants were not to be so easily defeated.
Already for some centuries they had been secretly experimenting with a
means of gaining a far more thorough dominion over the natural
species. At the eleventh hour they succeeded.

In this undertaking they had been favoured by the results which a
section of the natural species itself had produced long ago in the
effort to breed specialized communicants to keep in touch with the
unseen world. That sect, or theocratic nation, which had striven for
many centuries toward this goal, had finally attained what they
regarded as success. There came into existence an hereditary caste of
communicants. Now, though these beings were subject to mediumistic
trances in which they apparently conversed with denizens of the other
world and received instructions about the ordering of matters
terrestrial, they were in fact merely abnormally suggestible. Trained
from childhood in the lore of the unseen world, their minds, during
the trance, were amazingly fertile in developing fantasies based on
that lore. Left to themselves, they were merely folk who were
abnormally lacking in initiative and intelligence. Indeed, so na´ve
were they, and so sluggish, that they were mentally more like cattle
than human beings. Yet under the influence of suggestion they became
both intelligent and vigorous. Their intelligence, however, operating
strictly in service of the suggestion, was wholly incapable of
criticizing the suggestion itself.

There is no need to revert to the downfall of this theocratic society,
beyond saying that, since both private and public affairs were
regulated by reference to the sayings of the communicants, inevitably
the state fell into chaos. The other community of the Third Men, that
which was engaged upon breeding the Great Brains, gradually dominated
the whole planet. The mediumistic stock, however, remained in
existence, and was treated with a half-contemptuous reverence. The
mediums were still generally regarded as in some manner specially
gifted with the divine spirit, but they were now thought to be too
holy for their sayings to have any relation to mundane affairs.

It was by means of this mediumistic stock that the Great Brains had
intended to consolidate their position. Their earlier efforts may be
passed over. But in the end they produced a race of living and even
intelligent machines whose will they could control absolutely, even at a
great distance. For the new variety of Third Men was "telepathically"
united with its masters. Martian units had been incorporated in its
nervous system.

At the last moment the Great Brains were able to put into the field an
army of these perfect slaves, which they equipped with the most
efficient lethal weapons. The remnant of original servants discovered
too late that they had been helping to produce their supplanters. They
joined the rebels, only to share in the general destruction. In a few
months all the Third Men, save the new docile variety, were destroyed;
except for a few specimens which were preserved in cages for
experimental purposes. And in a few years every type of animal that
was not known to be directly or indirectly necessary to human life had
been exterminated. None were preserved even as specimens, for the
Great Brains had already studied them through and through.

But though the Great Brains were now absolute possessors of the Earth,
they were after all no nearer their goal than before. The actual
struggle with the natural species had provided them with an aim; but
now that the struggle was over, they began to be obsessed once more
with their intellectual failure. With painful clarity they realized
that, in spite of their vast weight of neural tissue, in spite of
their immense knowledge and cunning, they were practically no nearer
the ultimate truth than their predecessors had been. Both were
infinitely far from it.

For the Fourth Men, the Great Brains, there was no possible life but
the life of intellect; and the life of intellect had become barren.
Evidently something more than mere bulk of brain was needed for the
solving of the deeper intellectual problems. They must, therefore,
somehow create a new brain-quality, or organic formation of brain,
capable of a mode of vision or insight impossible in their present
state. They must learn somehow to remake their own brain-tissues upon
a new plan. With this aim, and partly through unwitting jealousy of
the natural and more balanced species which had created them, they
began to use their captive specimens of that species for a great new
enterprise of research into the nature of human brain-tissue. It was
hoped thus to find some hint of the direction in which the new
evolutionary leap should take place. The unfortunate specimens were
therefore submitted to a thousand ingenious physiological and
psychological tortures. Some were kept alive with their brains spread
out permanently on a laboratory table, for microscopic observation
during their diverse psychological reactions. Others were put into
fantastic states of mental abnormality. Others were maintained in
perfect health of body and mind, only to be felled at last by some
ingeniously contrived tragic experience. New types were produced
which, it was hoped, might show evidence of emergence into a
qualitatively higher mode of mentality; but in fact they succeeded
only in ranging through the whole gamut of insanity.

The research continued for some thousands of years, but gradually
slackened, so utterly barren did it prove to be. As this frustration
became more and more evident, a change began to come over the minds of
the Fourth Men.

They knew, of course, that the natural species valued many things and
activities which they themselves did not appreciate at all. Hitherto
this had seemed a symptom merely of the low mental development of the
natural species. But the behaviour of the unfortunate specimens upon
whom they had been experimenting had gradually given the Fourth Men a
greater insight into the likings and admirations of the natural
species, so that they had learned to distinguish between those desires
which were fundamental and those merely accidental cravings which
clear thinking would have dismissed. In fact, they came to see that
certain activities and certain objects were appreciated by these
beings with the same clear-sighted conviction as they themselves
appreciated knowledge. For instance, the natural human beings valued
one another, and were sometimes capable of sacrificing themselves for
the sake of others. They also valued love itself. And again they
valued very seriously their artistic activities; and the activities of
their bodies and of animal bodies appeared to them to have intrinsic
excellence.

Little by little the Fourth Men began to realize that what was wrong
with themselves was not merely their intellectual limitation, but, far
more seriously, the limitation of their insight into values. And this
weakness, they saw, was the result, not of paucity of intellective
brain, but of paucity of body and lower brain tissues. This defect
they could not remedy. It was obviously impossible to remake
themselves so radically that they should become of a more normal type.
Should they concentrate their efforts upon the production of new
individuals more harmonious than themselves? Such a work, it might be
supposed, would have seemed unattractive to them. But no. They argued
thus: "It is our nature to care most for knowing. Full knowledge is to
be attained only by minds both more penetrating and more broadly based
than ours. Let us, therefore, waste no more time in seeking to achieve
the goal in ourselves. Let us seek rather to produce a kind of being,
free from our limitations, in whom we may attain the goal of perfect
knowledge vicariously. The producing of such a being will exercise all
our powers, and will afford the highest kind of fulfillment possible to
us. To refrain from this work would be irrational."

Thus it came about that the artificial Fourth Men began to work in a
new spirit upon the surviving specimens of the Third Men to produce
their own supplanters.


3. THE FIFTH MEN


The plan of the proposed new human being was worked out in great
detail before any attempt was made to produce an actual individual.
Essentially he was to be a normal human organism, with all the bodily
functions of the natural type; but he was to be perfected through and
through. Care must be taken to give him the greatest possible bulk of
brain compatible with such a general plan, but no more. Very carefully
his creators calculated the dimensions and internal proportions which
their creature must have. His brain could not be nearly as large as
their own, since he would have to carry it about with him, and
maintain it with his own physiological machinery. On the other hand,
if it was to be at all larger than the natural brain, the rest of the
organism must be proportionately sturdy. Like the Second Men, the new
species must be titanic. Indeed, it must be such as to dwarf even
those natural giants. The body, however, must not be so huge as to be
seriously hampered by its own weight, and by the necessity of having
bones so massive as to be unmanageable.

In working out the general proportions of the new man, his makers took
into account the possibility of devising more efficient bone and
muscle. After some centuries of patient experiment they did actually
invent a means of inducing in germ cells a tendency toward far
stronger bone-tissues and far more powerful muscle. At the same time
they devised nerve-tissues more highly specialized for their
particular functions. And in the new brain, so minute compared with
their own, smallness was to be compensated for by efficiency of
design, both in the individual cells and in their organization.

Further, it was found possible to economize somewhat in bulk and vital
energy by improvements in the digestive system. Certain new models of
micro-organisms were produced, which, living symbiotically in the
human gut, should render the whole process of digestion easier, more
rapid, and less erratic.

Special attention was given to the system of self-repair in all
tissues, especially in those which had hitherto been the earliest to
wear out. And at the same time the mechanism regulating growth and
general senescence was so designed that the new man should reach
maturity at the age of two hundred years, and should remain in full
vigour, for at least three thousand years, when, with the first
serious symptom of decay, his heart should suddenly cease functioning.
There had been some dispute whether the new being should be endowed
with perennial life, like his makers. But in the end it had been
decided that, since he was intended only as a transitional type, it
would be safer to allow him only a finite, though a prolonged,
lifetime. There must be no possibility that he should be tempted to
regard himself as life's final expression.

In sensory equipment, the new man was to have all the advantages of
the Second and Third Men, and, in addition a still wider range and
finer discrimination in every sense organ. More important was the
incorporation of Martian units in the new model of germ cell. As the
organism developed, these should propagate themselves and congregate
in the cells of the brain, so that every brain area might be sensitive
to ethereal vibrations, and the whole might emit a strong system of
radiation. But care was taken that this "telepathic" faculty of the
new species should remain subordinate. There must be no danger that
the individual should become a mere resonator of the herd.

Long-drawn-out chemical research enabled the Fourth Men to design also
far-reaching improvements in the secretions of the new man, so that he
should maintain both a perfect physiological equilibrium and a
well-balanced temperament. For they were determined that though he
should experience all the range of emotional life, his passions should
not run into disastrous excess; nor should he be prone to some one
emotion in season and out of season. It was necessary also to revise
in great detail the whole system of natural reflexes, abolishing some,
modifying others, and again strengthening others. All the more
complex, "instinctive" responses, which had persisted in man since the
days of Pithecanthropus Erectus, had also to be meticulously revised,
both in respect of the form of activity and the objects upon which
they should be instinctively directed. Anger, fear, curiosity, humour,
tenderness, egoism, sexual passion, and sociality must all be
possible, but never uncontrollable. In fact, as with the Second Men,
but more emphatically, the new type was to have an innate aptitude
for, and inclination toward, all those higher activities and objects
which, in the First Men, were only achieved after laborious
discipline. Thus, while the design included self-regard, it also
involved a disposition to prize the self chiefly as a social and
intellectual being, rather than as a primeval savage. And while it
included strong sociality, the group upon which instinctive interest
was to be primarily directed was to be nothing less than the organized
community of all minds. And again, while it included vigorous
primitive sexuality and parenthood, it provided also those innate
"sublimations" which had occurred in the second species; for instance,
the native aptitude for altruistic love of individual spirits of every
kind, and for art and religion. Only by a miracle of pure intellectual
skill could the cold-natured Great Brains, who were themselves doomed
never to have actual experience of such activities, contrive, merely
by study of the Third Men, to see their importance, and to design an
organism splendidly capable of them. It was much as though a blind
race, after studying physics, should invent organs of sight.

It was recognized, of course, that in a race in which the average
life span should be counted in thousands of years, procreation must be
very rare. Yet it was also recognized that, for full development of
mind, not only sexual intercourse but parenthood was necessary in both
sexes. This difficulty was overcome partly by designing a very
prolonged infancy and childhood; which, necessary in themselves for
the proper mental and physical growth of these complicated organisms,
provided also a longer exercise of parenthood for the mature. At the
same time the actual process of childbirth was designed to be as easy
as among the Third Men. And it was expected that with its greatly
improved physiological organization the infant would not need that
anxious and absorbing care which had so seriously hobbled most mothers
among the earlier races.

The mere sketching out of these preliminary specifications of an
improved human being involved many centuries of research and
calculation which taxed even the ingenuity of the Great Brains. Then
followed a lengthy period of tentative experiment in the actual
production of such a type. For some thousands of years little was done
but to show that many promising lines of attack were after all barren.
And several times during this period the whole work was held up by
disagreements among the Great Brains themselves as to the policy to be
adopted. Once, indeed, they took to violence, one party attacking the
other with chemicals, microbes, and armies of human automata.

In short it was only after many failures, and after many barren epochs
during which, for a variety of reasons, the enterprise was neglected,
that the Fourth Men did at length fashion two individuals almost
precisely of the type they had originally designed. These were
produced from a single fertilized ovum, in laboratory conditions.
Identical twins, but of opposite sexes, they became the Adam and Eve
of a new and glorious human species, the Fifth Men.

It may fittingly be said of the Fifth Men that they were the first to
attain true human proportions of body and mind. On the average they
were more than twice as tall as the First Men, and much taller than
the Second Men. Their lower limbs had therefore to be extremely
massive compared with the torso which they had to support. Thus, upon
the ample pedestal of their feet, they stood like columns of masonry.
Yet though their proportions were in a manner elephantine, there was a
remarkable precision and even delicacy in the volumes that composed
them. Their great arms and shoulders, dwarfed somewhat by their still
mightier legs, were instruments not only of power but also of fine
adjustment. Their hands also were fashioned both for power and for
minute control; for, while the thumb and forefinger constituted a
formidable vice, the delicate sixth finger had been induced to divide
its tip into two Lilliputian fingers and a corresponding thumb. The
contours of the limbs were sharply visible, for the body bore no hair,
save for a close, thick skull-cap which, in the original stock, was of
ruddy brown. The well-marked eyebrows, when drawn down, shaded the
sensitive eyes from the sun. Elsewhere there was no need of hair, for
the brown skin had been so ingeniously contrived that it maintained an
even temperature alike in tropical and subarctic climates, with no aid
either from hair or clothes. Compared with the great body, the head
was not large, though the brain capacity was twice that of the Second
Men. In the original pair of individuals the immense eyes were of a
deep violet, the features strongly moulded and mobile. These facial
characters had not been specially designed, for they seemed
unimportant to the Fourth Men; but the play of biological forces
resulted in a face not unlike that of the Second Men, though with an
added and indescribable expression which no human face had hitherto
attained.

How from this pair of individuals the new population gradually arose;
how at first it was earnestly fostered by its creators; how it
subsequently asserted its independence and took control of its own
destiny; how the Great Brains failed piteously to understand and
sympathize with the mentality of their creatures, and tried to
tyrannize over them; how for a while the planet was divided into two
mutually intolerant communities, and was at last drenched with man's
blood, until the human automata were exterminated, the Great Brains
starved or blown to pieces, and the Fifth Men themselves decimated;
how, as a result of these events, a dense fog of barbarism settled
once more upon the planet, so that the Fifth Men, like so many other
races, had after all to start rebuilding civilization and culture from
its very foundations; how all these things befell we must not in
detail observe.


4. THE CULTURE OF THE FIFTH MEN


It is not possible to recount the stages by which the Fifth Men
advanced toward their greatest civilization and culture; for it is
that fully developed culture itself which concerns us. And even of
their highest achievement, which persisted for so many millions of
years, I can say but little, not merely because I must hasten to the
end of my story, but also because so much of that achievement lies
wholly beyond the comprehension of those for whom this book is
intended. For I have at last reached that period in the history of man
when he first began to reorganize his whole mentality to cope with
matters whose very existence had been hitherto almost completely
hidden from him. The old aims persist, and are progressively realized
as never before; but also they become increasingly subordinate to the
requirements of new aims which are more and more insistently forced
upon him by his deepening experience. Just as the interests and ideals
of the First Men lie beyond the grasp of their ape contemporaries, so
the interests and ideals of the Fifth Men in their full development
lie beyond the grasp of the First Men. On the other hand, just as, in
the life of primitive man, there is much which would be meaningful
even to the ape, so in the life of the Fifth Men much remains which is
meaningful even to the First Men.

Conceive a world-society developed materially far beyond the wildest
dreams of America. Unlimited power, derived partly from the artificial
disintegration of atoms, partly from the actual annihilation of matter
through the union of electrons and protons to form radiation,
completely abolished the whole grotesque burden of drudgery which
hitherto had seemed the inescapable price of civilization, nay of life
itself. The vast economic routine of the world-community was carried
on by the mere touching of appropriate buttons. Transport, mining,
manufacture, and even agriculture were performed in this manner. And
indeed in most cases the systematic co-ordination of these activities
was itself the work of self-regulating machinery. Thus, not only was
there no longer need for any human beings to spend their lives in
unskilled monotonous labour, but further, much that earlier races
would have regarded as highly skilled though stereotyped work, was now
carried on by machinery. Only the pioneering of industry, the endless
exhilarating research, invention, design and reorganization, which is
incurred by an ever-changing society, still engaged the minds of men
and women. And though this work was of course immense, it could not
occupy the whole attention of a great world-community. Thus very much
of the energy of the race was free to occupy itself with other no less
difficult and exacting matters, or to seek recreation in its many
admirable sports and arts. Materially every individual was a
multi-millionaire, in that he had at his beck and call a great diversity of
powerful mechanisms; but also he was a penniless friar, for he had no
vestige of economic control over any other human being. He could fly
through the upper air to the ends of the earth in an hour, or hang
idle among the clouds all day long. His flying machine was no
cumbersome aeroplane, but either a wingless aerial boat, or a mere
suit of overalls in which he could disport himself with the freedom of
a bird. Not only in the air, but in the sea also, he was free. He
could stroll about the ocean bed, or gambol with the deep-sea fishes.
And for habitation he could make his home, as he willed, either in a
shack in the wilderness or in one of the great pylons which dwarfed
the architecture even of the American age. He could possess this huge
palace in loneliness and fill it with his possessions, to be
automatically cared for without human service; or he could join with
others and create a hive of social life. All these amenities he took
for granted as the savage takes for granted the air which he breathes.
And because they were as universally available as air, no one craved
them in excess, and no one grudged another the use of them.

Yet the population of the earth was now very numerous. Some ten
thousand million persons had their homes in the snow-capped pylons
which covered the continents with an open forest of architecture.
Between these great obelisks lay corn-land, park, and wilderness. For
there were very many areas of hill-country and forest which were
preserved as playgrounds. And indeed one whole continent, stretching
from the Tropics to the Arctic, was kept as nearly as possible in its
natural state. This region was chosen mainly for its mountains; for
since most of the Alpine tracts had by now been worn into
insignificance by water and frost, mountains were much prized. Into
this Wild Continent individuals of all ages repaired to spend many
years at a time in living the life of primitive man without any aid
whatever from civilization. For it was recognized that a highly
sophisticated race, devoted almost wholly to art and science, must
take special measures to preserve its contact with the primitive. Thus
in the Wild Continent was to be found at any time a sparse population
of "savages," armed with flint and bone, or more rarely with iron,
which they or their friends had wrested from the earth. These
voluntary primitives were intent chiefly upon hunting and simple
agriculture. Their scanty leisure was devoted to art, and meditation,
and to savouring fully all the primeval human values. Indeed it was a
hard life and a dangerous that these intellectuals periodically
imposed on themselves. And though of course they had zest in it, they
often dreaded its hardship and the uncertainty that they would ever
return from it. For the danger was very real. The Fifth Men had
compensated for the Fourth Men's foolish destruction of the animals by
creating a whole system of new types, which they set at large in the
Wild Continent; and some of these creatures were extremely formidable
carnivora, which man himself, armed only with primitive weapons, had
very good reason to fear. In the Wild Continent there was inevitably a
high death-rate. Many promising lives were tragically cut short. But
it was recognized that from the point of view of the race this
sacrifice was worth while, for the spiritual effects of the
institution of periodic savagery were very real. Beings whose natural
span was three thousand years, given over almost wholly to civilized
pursuits, were greatly invigorated and enlightened by an occasional
decade in the wild.

The culture of the Fifth Men was influenced in many respects by their
"telepathic" communication with one another. The obvious advantages of
this capacity were now secured without its dangers. Each individual
could isolate himself at will from the radiation of his fellows,
either wholly or in respect of particular elements of his mental
process; and thus he was in no danger of losing his individuality.
But, on the other hand, he was immeasurably more able to participate
in the experience of others than were beings for whom the only
possible communication was symbolic. The result was that, though
conflict of wills was still possible, it was far more easily resolved
by mutual understanding than had ever been the case in earlier
species. Thus there were no lasting and no radical conflicts, either
of thought or desire. It was universally recognized that every
discrepancy of opinion and of aim could be abolished by telepathic
discussion. Sometimes the process would be easy and rapid; sometimes
it could not be achieved without a patient and detailed "laying of
mind to mind," so as to bring to light the point where the difference
originated.

One result of the general "telepathic" facility of the species was
that speech was no longer necessary. It was still preserved and
prized, but only as a medium of art, not as a means of communication.
Thinking, of course, was still carried on largely by means of words;
but in communication there was no more need actually to speak the
words than in thinking in private. Written language remained essential
for the recording and storing of thought. Both language and the
written expression of it had become far more complex and accurate than
they had ever been, more faithful instruments for the expression and
creation of thought and emotion.

"Telepathy" combined with longevity and the extremely subtle
brain-structure of the species to afford each individual an immense
number of intimate friendships, and some slight acquaintance actually
with the whole race. This, I fear, must seem incredible to my readers,
unless they can be persuaded to regard it as a symptom of the high
mental development of the species. However that may be, it is a fact
that each person was aware of every other, at least as a face, or a
name, or the holder of a certain office. It is impossible to
exaggerate the effects of this facility of personal intercourse. It
meant that the species constituted at any moment, if not strictly a
community of friends, at least a vast club or college. Further, since
each individual saw his own mind reflected, as it were, in very many
other minds, and since there was great variety of psychological types,
the upshot in each individual was a very accurate self-consciousness.

In the Martians, "telepathic" intercourse had resulted in a true group
mind, a single psychical process embodied in the electro-magnetic
radiation of the whole race; but this group-mind was inferior in
calibre to the individual minds. All that was distinctive of an
individual at his best failed to contribute to the group-mind. But in
the fifth human species "telepathy" was only a means of intercourse
between individuals; there was no true group-mind. On the other hand,
"telepathic" intercourse occurred even on the highest planes of
experience. It was by "telepathic" intercourse in respect of art,
science, philosophy, and the appreciation of personalities, that the
public mind, or rather the public culture, of the Fifth Men had being.
With the Martians, "telepathic" union took place chiefly by
elimination of the differences between individuals; with the Fifth Men
"telepathic" communication was, as it were, a kind of spiritual
multiplication of mental diversity, by which each mind was enriched
with the wealth of ten thousand million. Consequently each individual
was, in a very real sense, the cultured mind of the species; but there
were as many such minds as there were individuals. There was no
additional racial mind over and above the minds of the individuals.
Each individual himself was a conscious centre which participated in,
and contributed to, the experience of all other centres.

This state of affairs would not have been possible had not the
world community been able to direct so much of its interest and energy
into the higher mental activities. The whole structure of society was
fashioned in relation to its best culture. It is almost impossible to
give even an inkling of the nature and aims of this culture, and to
make it believable that a huge population should have spent scores of
millions of years not wholly, not even chiefly, on industrial
advancement, but almost entirely on art, science and philosophy,
without ever repeating itself or falling into ennui. I can only point
out that, the higher a mind's development, the more it discovers in
the universe to occupy it.

Needless to say, the Fifth Men had early mastered all those paradoxes
of physical science which had so perplexed the First Men. Needless to
say, they had a very complete knowledge of the geography of the cosmos
and of the atom. But again and again the very foundations of their
science were shattered by some new discovery, so that they had
patiently to reconstruct the whole upon an entirely new plan. At
length, however, with the clear formulation of the principles of
psycho-physics, in which the older psychology and the older physics
were held, so to speak, in chemical combination, they seemed to have
built upon the rock. In this science, the fundamental concepts of
psychology were given a physical meaning, and the fundamental concepts
of physics were stated in a psychological manner. Further, the most
fundamental relations of the physical universe were found to be of the
same nature as the fundamental principles of art. But, and herein lay
mystery and horror even for the Fifth Men, there was no shred of
evidence that this aesthetically admirable cosmos was the work of a
conscious artist, nor yet that any mind would ever develop so greatly
as to be able to appreciate the Whole in all its detail and unity.

Since art seemed to the Fifth Men to be in some sense basic to the
cosmos, they were naturally very much preoccupied with artistic
creation. Consequently, all those who were not social or economic
organizers, or scientific researchers, or pure philosophers, were by
profession creative artists or handicraftsmen. That is to say, they
were engaged on the production of material objects of various kinds,
whose form should be aesthetically significant to the perceiver. In
some cases the material object was a pattern of spoken words, in
others pure music, in others moving coloured shapes, in others a
complex of steel cubes and bars, in others some translation of the
human figure into a particular medium, and so on. But also the
aesthetic impulse expressed itself in the production, by hand, of
innumerable common utensils, indulging sometimes in lavish decoration,
trusting at other times to the beauty of function. Every medium of art
that had ever beers employed was employed by the Fifth Men, and
innumerable new vehicles were also used. They prized on the whole more
highly those kinds of art which were not static; but involved time as
well as space; for as a race they were peculiarly fascinated by time.

These innumerable artists held that they were doing something of great
importance. The cosmos was to be regarded as an aesthetic unity in four
directions, and of inconceivable complexity. Human works of pure art
were thought of as instruments through which man might behold and
admire some aspect of the cosmic beauty. They were said to focus
together features of the cosmos too vast and elusive for man otherwise
to apprehend their form. The work of art was sometimes likened to a
compendious mathematical formula expressive of some immense and
apparently chaotic field of facts. But in the case of art, it was
said, the unity which the artistic object elicited was one in which
factors of vital nature and of mind itself were essential members.

The race thus deemed itself to be engaged upon a great enterprise both
of discovery and creation in which each individual was both an
originator of some unique contribution, and an appraiser of all.

Now, as the years advanced in millions and in decades of millions, it
began to be noticed that the movement of world culture was in a manner
spiral. There would be an age during which the interest of the race
was directed almost wholly upon certain tracts or aspects of
existence; and then, after perhaps a hundred thousand years, these
would seem to have been fully cultivated, and would be left fallow.
During the next epoch attention would be in the main directed to other
spheres, and then afterwards to yet others, and again others. But at
length a return would be made to the fields that had been deserted,
and it would be discovered that they could now miraculously bear a
million-fold the former crop. Thus, in both science and art man kept
recurring again and again to the ancient themes, to work over them
once more in meticulous detail and strike from them new truth and new
beauty, such as, in the earlier epoch, he could never have conceived.
Thus it was that, though science gathered to itself unfalteringly an
ever wider and more detailed view of existence, it periodically
discovered some revolutionary general principle in terms of which its
whole content had to be given a new significance. And in art there
would appear in one age works superficially almost identical with
works of another age, yet to the discerning eye incomparably more
significant. Similarly, in respect of human personality itself, those
men and women who lived at the close of the aeon of the Fifth Men
could often discover in the remote beginning of their own race beings
curiously like themselves, yet, as it were, expressed in fewer
dimensions than their own many-dimensional natures. As a map is like
the mountainous land, or the picture like the landscape, or indeed as
the point and the circle are like the sphere, so, and only so, the
earlier Fifth Men resembled the flower of the species.

Such statements would be in a manner true of any period of steady
cultural progress. But in the present instance they have a peculiar
significance which I must now somehow contrive to suggest.



CHAPTER XII. THE LAST TERRESTRIALS


I. THE CULT OF EVANESCENCE


The Fifth Men had not been endowed with that potential immortality
which their makers themselves possessed. And from the fact that they
were mortal and yet long-lived, their culture drew its chief
brilliance and poignancy. Beings for whom the natural span was three
thousand years, and ultimately as much as fifty thousand, were
peculiarly troubled by the prospect of death, and by the loss of those
dear to them. The mere ephemeral kind of spirit, that comes into being
and then almost immediately ceases, before it has entered at all
deeply into consciousness of itself, can face its end with a courage
that is half unwitting. Even its smart in the loss of other beings
with whom it has been intimate is but a vague and dreamlike suffering.
For the ephemeral spirit has no time to grow fully awake, or fully
intimate with another, before it must lose its beloved, and itself
once more fade into unconsciousness. But with the long-lived yet not
immortal Fifth Men the case was different. Gathering to themselves
experience of the cosmos, acquiring an ever more precise and vivid
insight and appreciation, they knew that very soon all this wealth of
the soul must cease to be. And in love, though they might be fully
intimate not merely with one but with very many persons, the death of
one of these dear spirits seemed an irrevocable tragedy, an utter
annihilation of the most resplendent kind of glory, an impoverishment
of the cosmos for evermore.

In their brief primitive phase, the Fifth Men, like so many other
races, sought to console themselves by unreasoning faith in a life
after death, They conceived, for instance, that at death terrestrial
beings embarked upon a career continuous with earthly life, but far
more ample, either in some remote planetary system, or in some wholly
distinct orb of space-time. But though such theories were never
disproved in the primitive era, they gradually began to seem not
merely improbable but ignoble. For it came to be recognized that the
resplendent glories of personality, even in that degree of beauty
which now for the first time was attained, were not after all the
extreme of glory. It was seen with pain, but also with exultation,
that even love's demand that the beloved should have immortal life is
a betrayal of man's paramount allegiance. And little by little it
became evident that those who used great gifts, and even genius, to
establish the truth of the after life, or to seek contact with their
beloved dead, suffered from a strange blindness, and obtuseness of the
spirit. Though the love which had misled them was itself a very lovely
thing, yet they were misled. Like children, searching for lost toys,
they wandered. Like adolescents seeking to recapture delight in the
things of childhood, they shunned those more difficult admirations
which are proper to the grown mind.

And so it became a constant aim of the Fifth Men to school themselves
to admire chiefly even in the very crisis of bereavement, not persons,
but that great music of innumerable personal lives, which is the life
of the race. And quite early in their career they discovered an
unexpected beauty in the very fact that the individual must die. So
that, when they had actually come into possession of the means to make
themselves immortal, they refrained, choosing rather merely to
increase the life-span of succeeding generations to fifty thousand
years. Such a period seemed to be demanded for the full exercise of
human capacity; but immortality, they held, would lead to spiritual
disaster.

Now as their science advanced they saw that there had been a time,
before the stars were formed, when there was no possible footing for
minds in the cosmos; and that there would come a time when mentality
would be driven out of existence. Earlier human species had not needed
to trouble about mind's ultimate fate; but for the long-lived Fifth
Men the end, though remote, did not seem infinitely distant. The
prospect distressed them. They had schooled themselves to live not for
the individual but for the race; and now the life of the race itself
was seen to be a mere instant between the endless void of the past and
the endless void of the future. Nothing within their ken was more
worthy of admiration than the organized progressive mentality of
mankind; and the conviction that this most admired thing must soon
cease, filled many of their less ample minds with horror and
indignation. But in time the Fifth Men, like the Second Men long
before them, came to suspect that even in this tragic brevity of
mind's course there was a quality of beauty, more difficult than the
familiar beauty, but also more exquisite. Even thus imprisoned in an
instant, the spirit of man might yet plumb the whole extent of space,
and also the whole past and the whole future; and so, from behind his
prison bars, he might render the universe that intelligent worship
which, they felt, it demanded of him. Better so, they said, than that
he should fret himself with puny efforts to escape. He is dignified by
his very weakness, and the cosmos by its very indifference to him.

For aeons they remained in this faith. And they schooled their hearts
to acquiesce in it, saying, if it is so, it is best, and somehow we
must learn to see that it is best. But what they meant by "best" was
not what their predecessors would have meant. They did not, for
instance, deceive themselves by pretending that after all they
themselves actually preferred life to be evanescent. On the contrary,
they continued to long that it might be otherwise. But having
discovered, both behind the physical order and behind the desires of
minds, a fundamental principle whose essence was aesthetic, they were
faithful to the conviction that whatever was fact must somehow in the
universal view be fitting, right, beautiful, integral to the form of
the cosmos. And so they accepted as right a state of affairs which in
their own hearts they still felt grievously wrong. This conviction of
the irrevocability of the past and of the evanescence of mind induced
in them a great tenderness for all beings that had lived and ceased.
Deeming themselves to be near the crest of life's achievement, blessed
also with longevity and philosophic detachment, they were often
smitten with pity for those humbler, briefer and less free spirits
whose lot had fallen in the past. Moreover, themselves extremely
complex, subtle, conscious, they conceived a generous admiration for
all simple minds, for the early men, and for the beasts. Very strongly
they condemned the action of their predecessors in destroying so many
joyous and delectable creatures. Earnestly they sought to reconstruct
in imagination all those beings that blind intellectualism had
murdered. Earnestly they delved in the near and the remote past so as
to recover as much as possible of the history of life on the planet.
With meticulous love they would figure out the life stories of extinct
types, such as the brontosaurus, the hippopotamus, the chimpanzee, the
Englishman, the American, as also of the still extant amoeba. And
while they could not but relish the comicality of these remote beings,
their amusement was the outgrowth of affectionate insight into simple
natures, and was but the obverse of their recognition that the
primitive is essentially tragic, because blind. And so, while they saw
that the main work of man must have regard to the future, they felt
that he owed also a duty toward the past. He must preserve it in his
own mind, if not actually in life at least in being. In the future lay
glory, joy, brilliance of the spirit. The future needed service, not
pity, not piety; but in the past lay darkness, confusion, waste, and
all the cramped primitive minds, bewildered, torturing one another in
their stupidity, yet one and all in some unique manner, beautiful.

The reconstruction of the past, not merely as abstract history but
with the intimacy of the novel, thus became one of the main
preoccupations of the Fifth Men. Many devoted themselves to this work,
each individual specializing very minutely in some particular episode
of human or animal history, and transmitting his work into the culture
of the race. Thus increasingly the individual felt himself to be a
single flicker between the teeming gulf of the never-more and the
boundless void of the not-yet. Himself a member of a very noble and
fortunate race, his zest in existence was tempered, deepened, by a
sense of the presence, the ghostly presence, of the myriad less
fortunate beings in the past. Sometimes, and especially in epochs when
the contemporary world seemed most satisfactory and promising, this
piety toward the primitive and the past became the dominant activity
of the race, giving rise to alternating phases of rebellion against
the tyrannical nature of the cosmos, and faith that in the universal
view, after all, this horror must be right. In this latter mood it was
held that the very irrevocability of the past dignified all past
existents, and dignified the cosmos, as a work of tragic art is
dignified by the irrevocability of disaster. It was this mood of
acquiescence and faith which in the end became the characteristic
attitude of the Fifth Men for many millions of years.

But a bewildering discovery was in store for the Fifth Men, a
discovery which was to change their whole attitude toward existence.
Certain obscure biological facts began to make them suspect, on purely
empirical grounds, that past events were not after all simply
non-existent, that though no longer existent in the temporal manner, they
had eternal existence in some other manner. The effect of this
increasing suspicion about the past was that a once harmonious race
was divided for a while into two parties, those who insisted that the
formal beauty of the universe demanded the tragic evanescence of all
things, and those who determined to show that living minds could
actually reach back into past events in all their pastness.

The readers of this book are not in a position to realize the
poignancy of the conflict which now threatened to wreck humanity. They
cannot approach it from the point of view of a race whose culture had
consisted of an age-long schooling in admiration of an ever-vanishing
cosmos. To the orthodox it seemed that the new view was iconoclastic,
impertinent, vulgar. Their opponents, on the other hand, insisted that
the matter must be decided dispassionately, according to the evidence.
They were also able to point out that this devotion to evanescence was
after all but the outcome of the conviction that the cosmos must be
supremely noble. No one, it was said, really had direct vision of
evanescence as in itself an excellence. So heartfelt was the dispute
that the orthodox party actually broke off all "telepathic"
communication with the rebels, and even went so far as to plan their
destruction. There can be no doubt that if violence had actually been
used the human race would have succumbed; for in a species of such
high mental development internecine war would have been a gross
violation of its nature. It would never have been able to live down so
shameful a spiritual disaster. Fortunately, however, at the eleventh
hour, common sense prevailed. The iconoclasts were permitted to carry
on their research, and the whole race awaited the result.


2. EXPLORATION OF TIME


This first attack upon the nature of time involved an immense
co-operative work, both theoretical and practical. It was from biology
that the first hint had come that the past persisted. And it would be
necessary to restate the whole of biology and the physical sciences in
terms of the new idea. On the practical side it was necessary to
undertake a great campaign of experiment, physiological and
psychological. We cannot stay to watch this work. Millions of years
passed by. Sometimes, for thousands of years at a spell, temporal
research was the main preoccupation of the race: sometimes it was
thrust into the background, or completely ignored, during epochs which
were dominated by other interests. Age after age passed, and always
the effort of man in this sphere remained barren. Then at last there
was a real success.

A child had been selected from among those produced by an age-long
breeding enterprise, directed towards the mastery of time. From
infancy this child's brain had been very carefully controlled
physiologically. Psychologically also he had been subjected to a
severe treatment, that he might be properly schooled for his strange
task. In the presence of several scientists and historians he was put
into a kind of trance, and brought out of it again, half an hour
later. He was then asked to give an account "telepathically" of his
experiences during the trance. Unfortunately he was now so shattered
that his evidence was almost unintelligible. After some months of rest
he was questioned again, and was able to describe a curious episode
which turned out to be a terrifying incident in the girlhood of his
dead mother. He seemed to have seen the incident through her eyes, and
to have been aware of all her thoughts. This alone proved nothing, for
he might have received the information from some living mind. Once
more, therefore, and in spite of his entreaties, he was put into the
peculiar trance. On waking he told a rambling story of "little red
people living in a squat white tower." It was clear that he was
referring to the Great Brains and their attendants. But once more,
this proved nothing; and before the account was finished the child
died.

Another child was chosen, but was not put to the test until late in
adolescence. After an hour of the trance, he woke and became terribly
agitated, but forced himself to describe an episode which the
historians assigned to the age of the Martian invasions. The
importance of this incident lay in his account of a certain house with
a carved granite portico, situated at the head of a waterfall in a
mountain valley. He said he had found himself to be an old woman, and
that he, or she, was being hurriedly helped out of the house by the
other inmates. They watched a formless monster creep down the valley,
destroy their house, and mangle two persons who failed to get away in
time. Now this house was not at all typical of the Second Men, but
must have expressed the whim of some freakish individual. From
evidence derived from the boy himself, it proved possible to locate
the valley with reference to a former mountain, known to history. No
valley survived in that spot; but deep excavations revealed the
ancient slopes, the fault that had occasioned the waterfall, and the
broken pillars.

This and many similar incidents confirmed the Fifth Men in their new
view of time. There followed an age in which the technique of direct
inspection of the past was gradually improved, but not without
tragedy. In the early stages it was found impossible to keep the
"medium" alive for more than a few weeks after his venture into the
past. The experience seemed to set up a progressive mental
disintegration which produced first insanity, then paralysis, and,
within a few months, death. This difficulty was at last overcome. By
one means and another a type of brain was produced capable of
undergoing the strain of supra-temporal experience without fatal
results. An increasingly large proportion of the rising generation had
now direct access to the past, and were engaged upon a great restatement
of history in relation to their first-hand experience; but
their excursions into the past were uncontrollable. They could not go
where they wanted to go, but only where fate flung them. Nor could
they go of their own will, but only through a very complicated
technique, and with the cooperation of experts. After a time the
process was made much easier, in fact, too easy. The unfortunate
medium might slip so easily into the trance that his days were eaten
up by the past. He might suddenly fall to the ground, and lie rapt,
inert, dependent on artificial feeding, for weeks, months, even for
years. Or a dozen times in the same day he might be flung into a dozen
different epochs of history. Or, still more distressing, his
experience of past events might not keep pace with the actual rhythm
of those events themselves. Thus he might behold the events of a
month, or even a lifetime, fantastically accelerated so as to occupy a
trance of no more than a day's duration. Or, worse, he might find
himself sliding backwards down the vista of the hours and experiencing
events in an order the reverse of the natural order. Even the
magnificent brains of the Fifth Men could not stand this. The result
was maniacal behaviour, followed by death. Another trouble also beset
these first experimenters. Supra-temporal experience proved to be like
a dangerous and habit-forming drug. Those who ventured into the past
might become so intoxicated that they would try to spend every moment
of their natural lives in roaming among past events. Thus gradually
they would lose touch with the present, live in absent-minded
brooding, fail to react normally to their environment, turn socially
worthless, and often come actually to physical disaster through
inability to look after themselves.

Many more thousands of years passed before these difficulties and
dangers were overcome. At length, however, the technique of
supra-temporal experience was so perfected that every individual could at
will practise it with safety, and could, within limits, project his
vision into any locality of space-time which he desired to inspect. It
was only possible, however, to see past events through the mind of
some past organism, no longer living. And in practice only human
minds, and to some extent the minds of the higher mammals, could be
entered. The explorer retained throughout his adventure his own
personality and system of memory. While experiencing the past
individual's perceptions, memories, thoughts, desires, and in fact the
whole process and content of the past mind, the explorer continued to
be himself, and to react in terms of his own character, now
condemning, now sympathizing, now critically enjoying the spectacle.

The task of explaining the mechanism of this new faculty occupied the
scientists and philosophers of the species for a very long period. The
final account, of course, cannot be presented save by parable; for it
was found necessary to recast many fundamental concepts in order to
interpret the facts coherently. The only hint that I can give of the
explanation is in saying, metaphorically of course, that the living
brain had access to the past, not by way of some mysterious kind of
racial memory, nor by some equally impossible journey up the stream of
time, but by a partial awakening, as it were, into eternity, and into
inspection of a minute tract of space-time through some temporal mind
in the past, as though through an optical instrument. In the early
experiments the fantastic speeding, slowing and reversal of the
temporal process resulted from disorderly inspection. As a reader may
either skim the pages of a book, or read at a comfortable pace, or
dwell upon one word, or spell the sentence backwards, so,
unintentionally, the novice in eternity might read or misread the mind
that was presented to him.

This new mode of experience, it should be noted, was the activity of
living brains, though brains of a novel kind. Hence what was to be
discovered "through the medium of eternity" was limited by the
particular exploring brain's capacity of understanding what was
presented to it. And, further, though the actual supra-temporal
contact with past events occupied no time in the brain's natural life,
the assimilating of that moment of vision, the reduction of it to
normal temporal memory in the normal brain structures, took time, and
had to be done during the period of the trance. To expect the neural
structure to record the experience instantaneously would be to expect
a complicated machine to effect a complicated readjustment without a
process of readjusting.

The access to the past had, of course, far-reaching effects upon the
culture of the Fifth Men, Not only did it give them an incomparably
more accurate knowledge of past events, and insight into the motives
of historical personages, and into large-scale cultural movements, but
also it effected a subtle change in their estimate of the importance
of things. Though intellectually they had, of course, realized both
the vastness and the richness of the past, now they realized it with
an overwhelming vividness. Matters that had been known hitherto only
historically, schematically, were now available to be lived through by
intimate acquaintance. The only limit to such acquaintance was set by
the limitations of the explorer's own brain-capacity. Consequently the
remote past came to enter into a man and shape his mind in a manner in
which only the recent past, through memory, had shaped him hitherto.
Even before the new kind of experience was first acquired, the race
had been, as was said, peculiarly under the spell of the past; but now
it was infinitely more so. Hitherto the Fifth Men had been like
stay-at-home folk who had read minutely of foreign parts, but had never
travelled; now they had become travellers experienced in all the
continents of human time. The presences that had hitherto been ghostly
were now presences of flesh and blood seen in broad daylight. And so
the moving instant called the present appeared no longer as the only,
and infinitesimal, real, but as the growing surface of an everlasting
tree of existence. It was now the past that seemed most real, while
the future still seemed void, and the present merely the impalpable
becomingness of the indestructible past.

The discovery that past events were after all persistent, and
accessible, was of course for the Fifth Men a source of deep joy; but
also it caused them a new distress. While the past was thought of as a
mere gulf of nonexistence, the inconceivably great pain, misery,
baseness, that had fallen into that gulf, could be dismissed as done
with; and the will could be concentrated wholly on preventing such
horrors from occurring in the future. But now, along with past joy,
past distress was found to be everlasting. And those who, in the
course of their voyaging in the past, encountered regions of eternal
agony, came back distraught. It was easy to remind these harrowed
explorers that if pain was eternal, so also was joy. Those who had
endured travel in the tragic past were apt to dismiss such assurances
with contempt, affirming that all the delights of the whole population
of time could not compensate for the agony of one tortured individual.
And anyhow, they declared, it was obvious that there had been no
preponderance of joy over pain. Indeed, save in the modern age, pain
had been overwhelmingly in excess.

So seriously did these convictions prey upon the minds of the Fifth
Men, that in spite of their own almost perfect social order, in which
suffering had actually to be sought out as a tonic, they fell into
despair. At all times, in all pursuits, the presence of the tragic
past haunted them, poisoning their lives, sapping their strength.
Lovers were ashamed of their delight in one another, As in the far-off
days of sexual taboo, guilt crept between them, and held their spirits
apart even while their bodies were united.


3. VOYAGING IN SPACE


It was while they were struggling in the grip of this vast social
melancholy, and anxiously erasing some new vision by which to
reinterpret or transcend the agony of the past, that the Fifth Men
were confronted with a most unexpected physical crisis. It was
discovered that something queer was happening to the moon; in fact,
that the orbit of the satellite was narrowing in upon the earth in a
manner contrary to all the calculations of the scientists.

The Fifth Men had long ago fashioned for themselves an all-embracing
and minutely coherent system of natural sciences, every factor in
which had been put to the test a thousand times and had never been
shaken. Imagine, then, their bewilderment at this extraordinary
discovery. In ages when science was still fragmentary, a subversive
discovery entailed merely a reorganization of some one department of
science; but by now, such was the coherence of knowledge, that any
minute discrepancy of fact and theory must throw man into a state of
complete intellectual vertigo.

The evolution of the lunar orbit had, of course, been studied from
time immemorial. Even the First Men had learned that the moon must
first withdraw from and subsequently once more approach the earth,
till it should reach a critical proximity and begin to break up into a
swarm of fragments likes the rings of Saturn. This view had been very
thoroughly confirmed by the Fifth Men themselves. The satellite should
have continued to withdraw for yet many hundreds of millions of years;
but in fact it was now observed that not only had the withdrawal
ceased, but a comparatively rapid approach had begun.

Observations and calculations were repeated, and ingenious theoretical
explanations were suggested; but the truth remained completely hidden.
It was left to a future and more brilliant species to discover the
connexion between a planet's gravitation and its cultural development.
Meanwhile, the Fifth Men knew only that the distance between the earth
and the moon was becoming smaller with ever-increasing rapidity.

This discovery was a tonic to a melancholy race. Men turned from the
tragic past to the bewildering present and the uncertain future.

For it was evident that, if the present acceleration of approach were
to be maintained, the moon would enter the critical zone and
disintegrate in less than ten million years; and, further, that the
fragments would not maintain themselves as a ring, but would soon
crash upon the earth. Heat generated by their impact would make the
surface of the earth impossible as the home of life. A short-lived and
short-sighted species might well have considered ten million years as
equivalent to eternity. Not so the Fifth Men. Thinking primarily in
terms of the race, they recognized at once that their whole social
policy must now be dominated by this future catastrophe. Some there
were indeed who at first refused to take the matter seriously, saying
that there was no reason to believe that the moon's odd behaviour
would continue indefinitely. But as the years advanced, this view
became increasingly improbable. Some of those who had spent much of
their lives in exploration of the past now sought to explore the
future also, hoping to prove that human civilization would always be
discoverable on the earth in no matter how remote a future. But the
attempt to unveil the future by direct inspection failed completely.
It was surmised, erroneously, that future events, unlike past events,
must be strictly non-existent until their creation by the advancing
present.

Clearly humanity must leave its native planet. Research was therefore
concentrated on the possibility of flight through empty space, and the
suitability of neighbouring worlds. The only alternatives were Mars
and Venus. The former was by now without water and without atmosphere.
The latter had a dense moist atmosphere; but one which lacked oxygen.
The surface of Venus, moreover, was known to be almost completely
covered with a shallow ocean. Further the planet was so hot by day
that, even at the poles, man in his present state would scarcely
survive.

It did not take the Fifth Men many centuries to devise a tolerable
means of voyaging in interplanetary space. Immense rockets were
constructed, the motive power of which was derived from the
annihilation of matter. The vehicle was propelled simply by the
terrific pressure of radiation thus produced. "Fuel" for a voyage of
many months, or even years, could, of course, easily be carried, since
the annihilation of a minute amount of matter produced a vast wealth
of energy. Moreover, when once the vessel had emerged from the earth's
atmosphere, and had attained full speed, she would, of course,
maintain it without the use of power from the rocket apparatus. The
task of rendering the "ether ship" properly manageable and decently
habitable proved difficult, but not insurmountable. The first vessel
to take the ether was a cigar-shaped hull some three thousand feet
long, and built of metals whose artificial atoms were incomparably
more rigid than anything hitherto known. Batteries of "rocket"
apparatus at various points on the hull enabled the ship not only to
travel forward, but to reverse, turn in any direction, or side-step.
Windows of an artificial transparent element, scarcely less strong
than the metal of the hull, enabled the voyagers to look around them.
Within there was ample accommodation for a hundred persons and their
provisions for three years. Air for the same period was manufactured
in transit from protons and electrons stored under pressure comparable
to that in the interior of a star. Heat was, of course, provided by the
annihilation of matter. Powerful refrigeration would permit the vessel
to approach the sun almost to the orbit of Mercury. An "artificial
gravity" system, based on the properties of the electro-magnetic field,
could be turned on and regulated at will, so as to maintain a more or
less normal environment for the human organism.

This pioneer ship was manned with a navigating crew and a company of
scientists, and was successfully dispatched upon a trial trip. The
intention was to approach close to the surface of the moon, possibly
to circumnavigate it at an altitude of ten thousand feet, and to
return without landing. For many days those on earth received radio
messages from the vessel's powerful installation, reporting that all
was going well. But suddenly the messages ceased, and no more was ever
heard of the vessel. Almost at the moment of the last message,
telescopes had revealed a sudden flash of light at a point on the
vessel's course. It was therefore surmised that she had collided with
a meteor and fused with the heat of the impact.

Other vessels were built and dispatched on trial voyages. Many failed
to return. Some got out of control, and reported that they were
heading for outer space or plunging toward the sun, their hopeless
messages continuing until the last of the crew succumbed to
suffocation. Other vessels returned successfully, but with crews
haggard and distraught from long confinement in bad atmosphere. One,
venturing to land on the moon, broke her back, so that the air rushed
out of her, and her people died. After her last message was received,
she was detected from the earth, as an added speck on the stippled
surface of a lunar "sea."

As time passed, however, accidents became rarer; indeed, so rare that
trips in the void began to be a popular form of amusement. Literature
of the period reverberates with the novelty of such experiences, with
the sense that man had at last learned true flight, and acquired the
freedom of the solar system. Writers dwelt upon the shock of seeing,
as the vessel soared and accelerated, the landscape dwindle to a mere
illuminated disk or crescent, surrounded by constellations. They
remarked also the awful remoteness and mystery which travellers
experienced on these early voyages, with dazzling sunlight on one side
of the vessel and dazzling bespangled night on the other. They
described how the intense sun spread his corona against a black and
star-crowded sky. They expatiated also on the overwhelming interest of
approaching another planet; of inspecting from the sky the still
visible remains of Martian civilization; of groping through the cloud
banks of Venus to discover islands in her almost coastless ocean; of
daring an approach to Mercury, till the heat became insupportable in
spite of the best refrigerating mechanism; of feeling a way across the
belt of the asteroids and onwards toward Jupiter, till shortage of air
and provisions forced a return.

But though the mere navigation of space was thus easily accomplished,
the major task was still untouched. It was necessary either to remake
man's nature to suit another planet, or to modify conditions upon
another planet to suit man's nature. The former alternative was
repugnant to the Fifth Men. Obviously it would entail an almost
complete refashioning of the human organism. No existing individual
could possibly be so altered as to live in the present conditions of
Mars or Venus. And it would probably prove impossible to create a new
being, adapted to these conditions, without sacrificing the brilliant
and harmonious constitution of the extant species.

On the other hand, Mars could not be made habitable without first
being stocked with air and water; and such an undertaking seemed
impossible. There was nothing for it, then, but to attack Venus. The polar
surfaces of that planet, shielded by impenetrable depths of cloud,
proved after all not unendurably hot. Subsequent generations might
perhaps be modified so as to withstand even the sub-arctic and
"temperate" climates. Oxygen was plentiful, but it was all tied up in
chemical combination. Inevitably so, since oxygen combines very
readily, and on Venus there was no vegetable life to exhale the free
gas and replenish the ever-vanishing supply. It was necessary, then,
to equip Venus with an appropriate vegetation, which in the course of
ages should render the planet's atmosphere hospitable to man. The
chemical and physical conditions on Venus had therefore to be studied
in great detail, so that it might be possible to design a kind of life
which would have a chance of flourishing. This research had to be
carried out from within the ether ships, or with gas helmets, since no
human being could live in the natural atmosphere of the planet.

We must not dwell upon the age of heroic research and adventure which
now began. Observations of the lunar orbit were showing that ten
millions years was too long an estimate of the future habitability of
the earth; and it was soon realized that Venus could not be made ready
soon enough unless some more rapid change was set on foot. It was
therefore decided to split up some of the ocean of the planet into
hydrogen and oxygen by a vast process of electrolysis. This would have
beets a more difficult task, had not the ocean been relatively free
from salt, owing to the fact that there was so little dry land to be
denuded of salts by rain and river. The oxygen thus formed by
electrolysis would be allowed to mix with the atmosphere. The hydrogen
had to be got rid of somehow, and an ingenious method was devised by
which it should be ejected beyond the limits of the atmosphere at so
great a speed that it would never return. Once sufficient free oxygen
had been produced, the new vegetation would replenish the loss due to
oxidation. This work was duly set on foot. Great automatic
electrolysing stations were founded on several of the islands; and
biological research produced at length a whole flora of specialized
vegetable types to cover the land surface of the planet. It was hoped
that in less than a million years Venus would be fit to receive the
human race, and the race fit to live on Venus.

Meanwhile a careful survey of the planet had been undertaken. Its land
surface, scarcely more than a thousandth that of the earth, consisted
of an unevenly distributed archipelago of mountainous islands. The
planet had evidently not long ago been through a mountain-forming era,
for soundings proved its whole surface to be extravagantly corrugated.
The ocean was subject to terrific storms and currents; for since the
planet took several weeks to rotate, there was a great difference of
temperature and atmospheric pressure between the almost arctic
hemisphere of night and the sweltering hemisphere of day. So great was
the evaporation, that open sky was almost never visible from any part
of the planet's surface; and indeed the average day-time weather was a
succession of thick fogs and fantastic thunderstorms. Rain in the
evening was a continuous torrent. Yet before night was over the waves
clattered with fragments of ice.

Man looked upon his future home with loathing, and on his birthplace
with an affection which became passionate. With its blue sky, its
incomparable starry nights, its temperate and varied continents, its
ample spaces of agriculture, wilderness and park, its well-known
beasts and plants, and all the material fabric of the most enduring of
terrestrial civilizations, it seemed to the men and women who were
planning flight almost a living thing imploring them not to desert it.
They looked often with hate at the quiet moon, now visibly larger than
the moon of history. They revised again and again their astronomical
and physical theories, hoping for some flaw which should render the
moon's observed behaviour less mysterious, less terrifying. But they
found nothing. It was as though a fiend out of some ancient myth had
come to life in the modern world, to interfere with the laws of nature
for man's undoing.


4. PREPARING A NEW WORLD


Another trouble now occurred. Several electrolysis stations on Venus
were wrecked, apparently by submarine eruption. Also, a number of
etherships, engaged in surveying the ocean, mysteriously exploded. The
explanation was found when one of these vessels, though damaged, was
able to return to the earth. The commander reported that, when the
sounding line was drawn up, a large spherical object was seen to be
attached to it. Closer inspection showed that this object was fastened
to the sounding apparatus by a hook, and was indeed unmistakably
artificial, a structure of small metal plates riveted together. While
preparations were being made to bring the object within the ship, it
happened to bump against the hull, and then it exploded.

Evidently there must be intelligent life somewhere in the ocean of
Venus. Evidently the marine Venerians resented the steady depletion of
their aqueous world, and were determined to stop it. The terrestrials
had assumed that water in which no free oxygen was dissolved could not
support life. But observation soon revealed that in this world-wide
ocean there were many living species, some sessile, others
free-swimming, some microscopic, others as large as whales. The basis of
life in these creatures lay not in photosynthesis and chemical
combination, but in the controlled disintegration of radio-active
atoms. Venus was particularly rich in these atoms, and still contained
certain elements which had long ago ceased to exist on the earth. The
oceanic fauna subsisted in the destruction of minute quantities of
radio-active atoms throughout its tissues.

Several of the Venerian species had attained considerable mastery over
their physical environment, and were able to destroy one another very
competently with various mechanical contrivances. Many types were
indeed definitely intelligent and versatile within certain limits. And
of these intelligent types, one had come to dominate all the others by
virtue of its superior intelligence, and had constructed a genuine
civilization on the basis of radio-active power. These most developed
of all the Venerian creatures were beings of about the size and shape
of a swordfish. They had three manipulative organs, normally sheathed
within the long "sword," but capable of extension beyond its point, as
three branched muscular tentacles. They swam with a curious screw-like
motion of their bodies and triple tails. Three fins enabled them to
steer. They had also organs of phosphorescence, vision, touch, and
something analogous to hearing. They appeared to reproduce asexually,
laying eggs in the ooze of the ocean bed. They had no need of
nutrition in the ordinary sense; but in infancy they seemed to gather
enough radio-active matter to keep them alive for many years. Each
individual, when his stock was running out and he began to be feeble,
was either destroyed by his juniors or buried in a radio-active mine,
to rise from this living death in a few months completely rejuvenated.

At the bottom of the Venerian ocean these creatures thronged in cities
of proliferated coral-like buildings, equipped with many complex
articles, which must have constituted the necessities and luxuries of
their civilization. So much was ascertained by the Terrestrials in the
course of their submarine exploration. But the mental life of
Venerians remained hidden. It was clear, indeed, that like all living
things, they were concerned with self-maintenance and the exercise of
their capacities; but of the nature of these capacities little was
discoverable. Clearly they used some kind of symbolic language, based
on mechanical vibrations set up in the water by the snapping claws of
their tentacles. But their more complex activities were quite
unintelligible. All that could be recorded with certainty was that
they were much addicted to warfare, even to warfare between groups of
one species; and that even in the stress of military disaster they
maintained a feverish production of material articles of all sorts,
which they proceeded to destroy and neglect.

One activity was observed which was peculiarly mysterious. At certain
seasons three individuals, suddenly developing unusual luminosity,
would approach one another with rhythmic swayings and tremors, and
would then rise on their tails and press their bodies together.
Sometimes at this stage an excited crowd would collect, whirling
around the three like driven snow. The chief performers would now
furiously tear one another to pieces with their crab-like pincers,
till nothing was left but tangled shreds of flesh, the great swords,
and the still twitching claws. The Terrestrials, observing these
matters with difficulty, at first suspected some kind of sexual
intercourse; but no reproduction was ever traced to this source.
Possibly the behaviour had once served a biological end, and had now
become a useless ritual. Possibly it was a kind of voluntary religious
sacrifice. More probably it was of a quite different nature,
unintelligible to the human mind.

As man's activities on Venus became more extensive, the Venerians
became more energetic in seeking to destroy him. They could not come
out of the ocean to grapple with him, for they were deep-sea
organisms. Deprived of oceanic pressure, they would have burst. But
they contrived to hurl high explosives into the centres of the
islands, or to undermine them from tunnels. The work of electrolysis
was thus very seriously hampered. And as all efforts to parley with
the Venerians failed completely, it was impossible to effect a
compromise. The Fifth Men were thus faced with a grave moral problem.
What right had man to interfere in a world already possessed by beings
who were obviously intelligent, even though their mental life was
incomprehensible to man? Long ago man himself had suffered at the
hands of Martian invaders, who doubtless regarded themselves as more
noble than the human race. And now man was committing a similar crime.
On the other hand, either the migration to Venus must go forward, or
humanity must be destroyed; for it seemed quite certain by now that
the moon would fall, and at no very distant date. And though man's
understanding of the Venerians was so incomplete, what he did know of
them strongly suggested that they were definitely inferior to himself
in mental range. The judgment might, of course, be mistaken; the
Venerians might after all be so superior to man that man could not get
an inkling of their superiority. But this argument would apply equally
to jelly-fish and micro-organisms. Judgment had to be passed according
to the evidence available. So far as man could judge at all in the
matter, he was definitely the higher type.

There was another fact to be taken into account. The life of the
Venerian organism depended on the existence of radio-active atoms.
Since those atoms are subject to disintegration, they must become
rarer. Venus was far better supplied than the earth in this respect,
but there must inevitably come a time when there would be no more
radio-active matter in Venus. Now submarine research showed that the
Venerian fauna had once been much more extensive, and that the
increasing difficulty of procuring radio-active matter was already the
great limiting factor of civilization. Thus the Venerians were doomed,
and man would merely hasten their destruction.

It was hoped, of course, that in colonizing Venus mankind would be
able to accommodate itself without seriously interfering with the
native population. But this proved impossible for two reasons. In the
first place, the natives seemed determined to destroy the invader even
if they should destroy themselves in the process. Titanic explosions
were engineered, which caused the invaders serious damage, but also
strewed the ocean surface with thousands of dead Venerians. Secondly,
it was found that, as electrolysis poured more and more free oxygen
into the atmosphere, the ocean absorbed some of the potent element
back into itself by solution; and this dissolved oxygen had a
disastrous effect upon the oceanic organisms. Their tissues began to
oxidize. They were burnt up, internally and externally, by a slow
fire. Man dared not stop the process of electrolysis until the
atmosphere had become as rich in oxygen as his native air. Long before
this state was reached, it was already clear that the Venerians were
beginning to feel the effects of the poison, and that in a few
thousand years, at most, they would be exterminated. It was therefore
determined to put them out of their misery as quickly as possible. Men
could by now walk abroad on the islands of Venus, and indeed the first
settlements were already being founded. They were thus able to build a
fleet of powerful submarine vessels to scour the ocean and destroy the
whole native fauna.

This vast slaughter influenced the mind of the fifth human species in
two opposite directions, now flinging it into despair, now rousing it
to grave elation. For on the one hand the horror of the slaughter
produced a haunting guiltiness in all men's minds, an unreasoning
disgust with humanity for having been driven to murder in order to
save itself. And this guiltiness combined with the purely intellectual
loss of self-confidence which had been produced by the failure of
science to account for the moon's approach. It re-awakened, also, that
other quite irrational sense of guilt which had been bred of sympathy
with the everlasting distress of the past. Together, these three
influences tended toward racial neurosis.

On the other hand a very different mood sometimes sprang from the same
three sources. After all, the failure of science was a challenge to be
gladly accepted; it opened up a wealth of possibilities hitherto
unimagined. Even the unalterable distress of the past constituted a
challenge; for in some strange manner the present and future, it was
said, must transfigure the past. As for the murder of Venerian life,
it was, indeed, terrible, but right. It had been committed without
hate; indeed, rather in love. For as the navy proceeded with its
relentless work, it had gathered much insight into the life of the
natives, and had learned to admire, even in a sense to love, while it
killed. This mood, of inexorable yet not ruthless will, intensified
the spiritual sensibility of the species, refined, so to speak, its
spiritual hearing, and revealed to it tones and themes in the
universal music which were hitherto obscure.

Which of these two moods, despair or courage, would triumph? All
depended on the skill of the species to maintain a high degree of
vitality in untoward circumstances.

Man now busied himself in preparing his new home. Many kinds of plant
life, derived from the terrestrial stock, but bred for the Venerian
environment, now began to swarm on the islands and in the sea. For so
restricted was the land surface, that great areas of ocean had to be
given over to specially designed marine plants, which now formed
immense floating continents of vegetable matter. On the least torrid
islands appeared habitable pylons, forming an architectural forest,
with vegetation on every acre of free ground. Even so, it would be
impossible for Venus ever to support the huge population of the earth.
Steps had therefore been taken to ensure that the birth-rate should
fall far short of the death-rate; so that, when the time should come,
the race might emigrate without leaving any living members behind. No
more than a hundred million, it was reckoned, could live tolerably on
Venus. The population had therefore to be reduced to a hundredth of
its former size, And since, in the terrestrial community, with its
vast social and cultural activity, every individual had fulfilled some
definite function in society, it was obvious that the new community
must be not merely small but mentally impoverished. Hitherto, each
individual had been enriched by intercourse with a far more intricate
and diverse social environment than would be possible on Venus.

Such was the prospect when at length it was judged advisable to leave
the earth to its fate. The moon was now so huge that it periodically
turned day into night, and night into a ghastly day. Prodigious tides
and distressful weather conditions had already spoilt the amenities of
the earth, and done great damage to the fabric of civilization. And so
at length humanity reluctantly took flight. Some centuries passed
before the migration was completed, before Venus had received, not
only the whole remaining human population, but also representatives of
many other species of organisms, and all the most precious treasures
of man's culture.



CHAPTER XIII. HUMANITY ON VENUS


I. TAKING ROOT AGAIN


Man's sojourn on Venus lasted somewhat longer than his whole career on
the Earth. From the days of Pithecanthropus to the final evacuation of
his native planet he passed, as we have seen, through a bewildering
diversity of form and circumstance, On Venus, though the human type
was somewhat more constant biologically, it was scarcely less
variegated in culture.

To give an account of this period, even on the minute scale that has
been adopted hitherto, would entail another volume. I can only sketch
its bare outline. The sapling, humanity, transplanted into foreign
soil, withers at first almost to the root, slowly readjusts itself,
grows into strength and a certain permanence of form, burgeons, season
by season, with leaf and flower of many successive civilizations and
cultures, sleeps winter by winter, through many ages of reduced
vitality, but at length (to force the metaphor), avoids this recurrent
defeat by attaining an evergreen constitution and a continuous
efflorescence. Then once more, through the whim of Fate, it is plucked
up by the roots and cast upon another world.

The first human settlers on Venus knew well that life would be a sorry
business. They had done their best to alter the planet to suit human
nature, but they could not make Venus into another Earth. The land
surface was minute. The climate was almost unendurable. The extreme
difference of temperature between the protracted day and night
produced incredible storms, rain like a thousand contiguous
waterfalls, terrifying electrical disturbances, and fogs in which a
man could not see his own feet. To make matters worse, the oxygen
supply was as yet barely enough to render the air breathable. Worse
still, the liberated hydrogen was not always successfully ejected
from the atmosphere. It would sometimes mingle with the air to form an
explosive mixture, and sooner or later there would occur a vast
atmospheric flash. Recurrent disasters of this sort destroyed the
architecture and the human inhabitants of many islands, and further
reduced the oxygen supply. In time, however, the increasing vegetation
made it possible to put an end to the dangerous process of
electrolysis.

Meanwhile, these atmospheric explosions crippled the race so seriously
that it was unable to cope with a more mysterious trouble which beset
it some time after the migration. A new and inexplicable decay of the
digestive organs, which first occurred as a rare disease, threatened
within a few centuries to destroy mankind. The physical effects of
this plague were scarcely more disastrous than the psychological
effects of the complete failure to master it; for, what with the
mystery of the moon's vagaries and the deep-seated, unreasoning, sense
of guilt produced by the extermination of the Venerians, man's
self-confidence was already seriously shaken, and his highly organized
mentality began to show symptoms of derangement. The new plague was,
indeed, finally traced to something in the Venerian water, and was
supposed to be due to certain molecular groupings, formerly rare, but
subsequently fostered by the presence of terrestrial organic matter in
the ocean. No cure was discovered.

And now another plague seized upon the enfeebled race. Human tissues
had never perfectly assimilated the Martian units which were the means
of "telepathic" communication. The universal ill-health now favoured a
kind of "cancer" of the nervous system, which was due to the
ungoverned proliferation of these units. The harrowing results of this
disease may be left unmentioned. Century by century it increased; and
even those who did not actually contract the sickness lived in
constant terror of madness.

These troubles were aggravated by the devastating heat. The hope that,
as the generations passed, human nature would adapt itself even to the
more sultry regions, seemed to be unfounded. Far otherwise, within a
thousand years the once-populous arctic and antarctic islands were
almost deserted. Out of each hundred of the great pylons, scarcely
more than two were inhabited, and these only by a few plague-stricken
and broken-spirited human relics. These alone were left to turn their
telescopes upon the earth and watch the unexpectedly delayed
bombardment of their native world by the fragments of the moon.

Population decreased still further. Each brief generation was slightly
less well developed than its parents. Intelligence declined. Education
became superficial and restricted. Contact with the past was no longer
possible. Art lost its significance, and philosophy its dominion over
the minds of men. Even applied science began to be too difficult.
Unskilled control of the sub-atomic sources of power led to a number
of disasters, which finally gave rise to a superstition that all
"tampering with nature" was wicked, and all the ancient wisdom a snare
of Man's Enemy. Books, instruments, all the treasures of human
culture, were therefore burnt. Only the perdurable buildings resisted
destruction. Of the incomparable world-order of the Fifth Men nothing
was left but a few island tribes cut off from one another by the
ocean, and from the rest of space-time by the depths of their own
ignorance.

After many thousands of years human nature did begin to adapt itself
to the climate and to the poisoned water without which life was
impossible. At the same time a new variety of the fifth species now
began to appear, in which the Martian units were not included. Thus at
last the race regained a certain mental stability, at the expense of
its faculty of "telepathy," which man was not to regain until almost
the last phase of his career. Meanwhile, though he had recovered
somewhat from the effects of an alien world, the glory that had been
was no more. Let us therefore hurry through the ages that passed
before noteworthy events again occurred.

In early days on Venus men had gathered their foodstuff from the great
floating islands of vegetable matter which had been artificially
produced before the migration. But as the oceans became populous with
modifications of the terrestrial fauna, the human tribes turned more
and more to fishing. Under the influence of its marine environment,
one branch of the species assumed such an aquatic habit that in time
it actually began to develop biological adaptations for marine life.
It is perhaps surprising that man was still capable of spontaneous
variation; but the fifth human species was artificial, and had always
been prone to epidemics of mutation. After some millions of years of
variation and selection there appeared a very successful species of
seal-like sub-men. The whole body was moulded to stream-lines. The
lung capacity was greatly developed. The spine had elongated, and
increased in flexibility. The legs were shrunken, grown together, and
flattened into a horizontal rudder. The arms also were diminutive and
fin-like, though they still retained the manipulative forefinger and
thumb. The head had shrunk into the body and looked forward in the
direction of swimming. Strong carnivorous teeth, emphatic
gregariousness, and a new, almost human, cunning in the chase,
combined to make these seal-men lords of the ocean. And so they
remained for many million years, until a more human race, annoyed at
their piscatorial success, harpooned them out of existence.

For another branch of the degenerated fifth species had retained a
more terrestrial habit and the ancient human form. Sadly reduced in
stature and in brain, these abject beings were so unlike the original
invaders that they are rightly considered a new species, and may
therefore be called the Sixth Men. Age after age they gained a
precarious livelihood by grubbing roots upon the forest-clad islands,
trapping the innumerable birds, and catching fish in the tidal inlets
with ground bait. Not infrequently they devoured, or were devoured by,
their seal-like relatives. So restricted and constant was the
environment of these human remnants, that they remained biologically
and culturally stagnant for some millions of years.

At length, however, geological events afforded man's nature once more
the opportunity of change. A mighty warping of the planet's crust
produced an island almost as large as Australia. In time this was
peopled, and from the clash of tribes a new and versatile race
emerged. Once more there was methodical tillage, craftsmanship,
complex social organization, and adventure in the realm of thought.

During the next two hundred million years all the main phases of man's
life on earth were many times repeated on Venus with characteristic
differences. Theocratic empires; free and intellectualistic island
cities; insecure overlordship of feudal archipelagos; rivalries of
high priest and emperor; religious feuds over the interpretation of
sacred scriptures; recurrent fluctuations of thought from na´ve
animism, through polytheism, conflicting monotheisms, and all the
desperate "isms" by which mind seeks to blur the severe outline of
truth; recurrent fashions of comfort-seeking fantasy and cold
intelligence; social disorders through the misuse of volcanic or wind
power in industry; business empires and pseudo-communistic empires--
all these forms flitted over the changing substance of mankind again
and again, as in an enduring hearth fire there appear and vanish the
infinitely diverse forms of flame and smoke. But all the while the
brief spirits, in whose massed configurations these forms inhered,
were intent chiefly on the primitive needs of food, shelter,
companionship, crowd-lust, love-making, the two-edged relationship of
parent and child, the exercise of muscle and intelligence in facile
sport. Very seldom, only in rare moments of clarity, only after ages
of misapprehension, did a few of them, here and there, now and again,
begin to have the deeper insight into the world's nature and man's.
And no sooner had this precious insight begun to propagate itself,
than it would be blotted out by some small or great disaster, by
epidemic disease, by the spontaneous disruption of society, by an
access of racial imbecility, by a prolonged bombardment of meteorites,
or by the mere cowardice and vertigo that dared not look down the
precipice of fact.


2. THE FLYING MEN


We need not dwell upon these multitudinous reiterations of culture,
but must glance for a moment at the last phase of this sixth human
species, so that we may pass on to the artificial species which it
produced.

Throughout their career the Sixth Men had often been fascinated by the
idea of flight. The bird was again and again their most sacred symbol.
Their monotheism was apt to be worship not of a god-man, but of a
god-bird, conceived now as the divine sea-eagle, winged with power, now
as the giant swift, winged with mercy, now as a disembodied spirit of
air, and once as the bird-god that became man to endow the human race
with flight, physical and spiritual.

It was inevitable that flight should obsess man on Venus, for the
planet afforded but a cramping home for groundlings; and the riotous
efflorescence of avian species shamed man's pedestrian habit. When in
due course the Sixth Men attained knowledge and power comparable to
that of the First Men at their height, they invented flying-machines
of various types. Many times, indeed, mechanical flight was
rediscovered and lost again with the downfall of civilization. But at
its best it was regarded only as a makeshift. And when at length, with
the advance of the biological sciences, the Sixth Men were in a
position to influence the human organism itself, they determined to
produce a true flying man. Many civilizations strove vainly for this
result, sometimes half-heartedly, sometimes with religious
earnestness. Finally the most enduring and brilliant of all the
civilizations of the Sixth Men actually attained the goal.

The Seventh Men were pigmies, scarcely heavier than the largest of
terrestrial flying birds. Through and through they were organized for
flight. A leathery membrane spread from the foot to the tip of the
immensely elongated and strengthened "middle" finger. The three
"outer" fingers, equally elongated, served as ribs to the membrane;
while the index and thumb remained free for manipulation. The body
assumed the streamlines of a bird, and was covered with a deep quilt
of feathery wool. This, and the silken down of the flight-membranes,
varied greatly from individual to individual in colouring and texture.
On the ground the Seventh Men walked much as other human beings, for
the flight-membranes were folded close to the legs and body, and hung
from the arms like exaggerated sleeves. In flight the legs were held
extended as a flattened tail, with the feet locked together by the big
toes. The breastbone was greatly developed as a keel, and as a base
for the muscles of flight. The other bones were hollow, for lightness,
and their internal surfaces were utilized as supplementary lungs. For,
like the birds, these flying men had to maintain a high rate of
oxidation. A state which others would regard as fever was normal to
them.

Their brains were given ample tracts for the organization of prowess
in flight. In fact, it was found possible to equip the species with a
system of reflexes for aerial balance, and a true, though artificial,
instinctive aptitude for flight, and interest in flight. Compared with
their makers their brain volume was of necessity small, but their
whole neural system was very carefully organized. Also it matured
rapidly, and was extremely facile in the acquirement of new modes of
activity. This was very desirable; for the individual's natural life
period was but fifty years, and in most cases it was deliberately cut
short by some impossible feat at about forty, or whenever the symptoms
of old age began to be felt.

Of all human species these bat-like Flying Men, the Seventh Men, were
probably the most care-free. Gifted with harmonious physique and gay
temperament, they came into a social heritage well adapted to their
nature. There was no occasion for them, as there had often been for
some others, to regard the world as fundamentally hostile to life, or
themselves as essentially deformed. Of quick intelligence in respect
of daily personal affairs and social organization, they were
untroubled by the insatiable lust of understanding. Not that they were
an unintellectual race, for they soon formulated a beautifully
systematic account of experience. They clearly perceived, however,
that the perfect sphere of their thought was but a bubble adrift in
chaos. Yet it was an elegant bubble. And the system was true, in its
own gay and frankly insincere manner, true as significant metaphor,
not literally true. What more, it was asked, could be expected of
human intellect? Adolescents were encouraged to study the ancient
problems of philosophy, for no reason but to convince themselves of
the futility of probing beyond the limits of the orthodox system.
"Prick the bubble of thought at any point," it was said, "and you
shatter the whole of it. And since thought is one of the necessities
of human life, it must be preserved."

Natural science was taken over from the earlier species with
half-contemptuous gratitude, as a necessary means of sane adjustment to
the environment. Its practical applications were valued as the ground
of the social order; but as the millennia advanced, and society
approached that remarkable perfection and stability which was to
endure for many million years, scientific inventiveness became less
and less needful, and science itself was relegated to the infant
schools. History also was given in outline during childhood, and
subsequently ignored.

This curiously sincere intellectual insincerity was due to the fact
that the Seventh Men were chiefly concerned with matters other than
abstract thought. It is difficult to give to members of the first
human species an inkling of the great preoccupation of these Flying
Men. To say that it was flight would be true, yet far less than the
truth. To say that they sought to live dangerously and vividly, to
crowd as much experience as possible into each moment, would again be
a caricature of the truth. On the physical plane indeed "the universe
of flight" with all the variety of peril and skill afforded by a
tempestuous atmosphere, was every individual's chief medium of
self-expression. Yet it was not flight itself, but the spiritual
aspect of flight, which obsessed the species.

In the air and on the ground the Seventh Men were different beings.
Whenever they exercised themselves in flight they suffered a
remarkable change of spirit. Much of their time had to be spent on the
ground, since most of the work upon which civilization rested was
impossible in the air. Moreover, life in the air was life at high
pressure, and necessitated spells of recuperation on the ground. In
their pedestrian phase the Seventh Men were sober folk, mildly bored,
yet in the main cheerful, humorously impatient of the drabness and irk
of pedestrian affairs, but ever supported by memory and anticipation
of the vivid life of the air. Often they were tired, after the strain
of that other life, but seldom were they despondent or lazy. Indeed,
in the routine of agriculture and industry they were industrious as
the wingless ants. Yet they worked in a strange mood of attentive
absentmindedness; for their hearts were ever in the air. So long as
they could have frequent periods of aviation, they remained bland even
on the ground. But if for any reason such as illness they were
confined to the ground for a long period, they pined, developed acute
melancholia, and died. Their makers had so contrived them that with
the onset of any very great pain or misery their hearts should stop.
Thus they were to avoid all serious distress. But, in fact, this
merciful device worked only on the ground. In the air they assumed a
very different and more heroic nature, which their makers had not
foreseen, though indeed it was a natural consequence of their design.

In the air the flying man's heart beat more powerfully. His temperature
 rose. His sensation became more vivid and more discriminate, his
intelligence more agile and penetrating. He experienced a more intense
pleasure or pain in all that happened to him. It would not be true to
say that he became more emotional; rather the reverse, if by
emotionality is meant enslavement to the emotions. For the most
remarkable features of the aerial phase was that this enhanced power
of appreciation was dispassionate. So long as the individual was in
the air, whether in lonely struggle with the storm, or in the
ceremonial ballet with sky-darkening hosts of his fellows; whether in
the ecstatic love dance with a sexual partner, or in solitary and
meditative circlings far above the world; whether his enterprise was
fortunate, or he found himself dismembered by the hurricane, and
crashing to death; always the gay and the tragic fortunes of his own
person were regarded equally with detached aesthetic delight. Even
when his dearest companion was mutilated or destroyed by some aerial
disaster, he exulted; though also he would give his own life in the
hope of effecting a rescue. But very soon after he had returned to the
ground he would be overwhelmed with grief, would strive vainly to
recapture the lost vision, and would perhaps die of heart failure.

Even when, as happened occasionally in the wild climate of Venus, a
whole aerial population was destroyed by some world-wide atmospheric
tumult, the few broken survivors, so long as they could remain in the
air, exulted. And actually while at length they sank exhausted toward
the ground, toward certain disillusionment and death, they laughed
inwardly. Yet an hour after they had alighted, their constitution
would be changed, their vision lost. They would remember only the
horror of the disaster, and the memory would kill them.

No wonder the Seventh Men grudged every moment that was passed on the
ground. While they were in the air, of course, the prospect of a
pedestrian interlude, or indeed of endless pedestrianism, though in a
manner repugnant, would be accepted with unswerving gaiety; but while
they were on the ground, they grudged bitterly to be there. Early in
the career of the species the proportion of aerial to terrestrial
hours was increased by a biological invention. A minute food plant was
produced which spent the winter rooted in the ground, and the summer
adrift in the sunlit upper air, engaged solely in photosynthesis.
Henceforth the populations of the Flying Men were able to browse upon
the bright pastures of the sky, like swallows. As the ages passed,
material civilization became more and more simplified. Needs which
could not be satisfied without terrestrial labour tended to be
outgrown. Manufactured articles became increasingly rare. Books were
no longer written or read. In the main, indeed, they were no longer
necessary; but to some extent their place was taken by verbal
tradition and discussion, in the upper air. Of the arts, music, spoken
lyric and epic verse, and the supreme art of winged dance, were
constantly practised. The rest vanished. Many of the sciences
inevitably faded into tradition; yet the true scientific spirit was
preserved in a very exact meteorology, a sufficient biology, and a
human psychology surpassed only by the second and fifth species at
their height. None of these sciences, however, was taken very
seriously, save in its practical applications. For instance,
psychology explained the ecstasy of flight very neatly as a febrile
and "irrational" beatitude. But no one was disconcerted by this
theory; for every one, while on the wing, felt it to be merely an
amusing half-truth.

The social order of the Seventh Men was in essence neither
utilitarian, nor humanistic, nor religious, but aesthetic. Every act
and every institution were to be justified as contributing to the
perfect form of the community. Even social prosperity was conceived as
merely the medium in which beauty should be embodied, the beauty,
namely, of vivid individual lives harmoniously related. Yet not only
for the individual, but even for the race itself (so the wise
insisted), death on the wing was more excellent than prolonged life on
the ground. Better, far better, would be racial suicide than a future
of pedestrianism. Yet though both the individual and the race were
conceived as instrumental to objective beauty, there was nothing
religious, in any ordinary sense, in this conviction. The Seventh Men
were completely without interest in the universal and the unseen. The
beauty which they sought to create was ephemeral and very largely
sensuous. And they were well content that it should he so. Personal
immortality, said a dying sage, would be as tedious as an endless
song. Equally so with the race. The lovely flame, of which we all are
members, must die, he said, must die; for without death she would fall
short of beauty.

For close on a hundred million terrestrial years this aerial society
endured with little change. On many of the islands throughout this
period stood even yet a number of the ancient pylons, though repaired
almost beyond recognition. In these nests the men and women of the
seventh species slept through the long Venerian nights, crowded like
roosting swallows. By day the same great towers were sparsely peopled
with those who were serving their turn in industry, while in the
fields and on the sea others laboured. But most were in the air. Many
would be skimming the ocean, to plunge, gannet-like, for fish. Many,
circling over land or sea, would now and again swoop like hawks upon
the wild-fowl which formed the chief meat of the species. Others,
forty or fifty thousand feet above the waves, where even the plentiful
atmosphere of Venus was scarcely capable of supporting them, would be
soaring, circling, sweeping, for pure joy of flight. Others, in the
calm and sunshine of high altitudes, would be hanging effortless upon
some steady up-current of air for meditation and the rapture of mere
percipience. Not a few love-intoxicated pairs would be entwining their
courses in aerial patterns, in spires, cascades, and true love-knots
of flight, presently to embrace and drop ten thousand feet in bodily
union. Some would be driving hither and thither through the green
mists of vegetable particles, gathering the manna in their open
mouths. Companies, circling together, would be discussing matters
social or aesthetic; others would be singing together, or listening to
recitative epic verse. Thousands, gathering in the sky like migratory
birds, would perform massed convolutions, reminiscent of the vast
mechanical aerial choreography of the First World State, but more
vital and expressive, as a bird's flight is more vital than the flight
of any machine. And all the while there would be some, solitary or in
companies, who, either in the pursuit of fish and wildfowl, or out of
pure devilment, pitted their strength and skill against the hurricane,
often tragically, but never without zest, and laughter of the spirit.

It may seem to some incredible that the culture of the Seventh Men
should have lasted so long. Surely it must either have decayed through
mere monotony and stagnation or have advanced into richer experience.
But no. Generation succeeded generation, and each was too short-lived
to outlast its young delight and discover boredom. Moreover, so
perfect was the adjustment of these beings to their world, that even
if they had lived for centuries they would have felt no need of
change. Flight provided them with intense physical exhilaration, and
with the physical basis of a genuine and ecstatic, though limited,
spiritual experience. In this their supreme attainment they rejoiced
not only in the diversity of flight itself, but also in the perceived
beauties of their variegated world, and most of all, perhaps, in the
thousand lyric and epic ventures of human intercourse in an aerial
community.

The end of this seemingly everlasting elysium was nevertheless
involved in the very nature of the species. In the first place, as the
ages lengthened into aeons, the generations preserved less and less of
the ancient scientific lore. For it became insignificant to them. The
aerial community had no need of it. This loss of mere information did
not matter so long as their condition remained unaltered; but in due
course biological changes began to undermine them. The species had
always been prone to a certain biological instability. A proportion of
infants, varying with circumstances, had always been misshapen; and
the deformity had generally been such as to make flight impossible.
The normal infant was able to fly early in its second year. If some
accident prevented it from doing so, it invariably fell into a decline
and died before its third year was passed. But many of the deformed
types, being the result of a partial reversion to the pedestrian
nature, were able to live on indefinitely without flight. According to
a merciful custom these cripples had always to be destroyed. But at
length, owing to the gradual exhaustion of a certain marine salt
essential to the high-strung nature of the Seventh Men, infants were
more often deformed than true to type. The world population declined
so seriously that the organized aerial life of the community could no
longer be carried on according to the time-honoured aesthetic
principles. No one knew how to check this racial decay, but many felt
that with greater biological knowledge it might be avoided. A
disastrous policy was now adopted. It was decided to spare a carefully
selected proportion of the deformed infants, those namely which,
though doomed to pedestrianism, were likely to develop high
intelligence. Thus it was hoped to raise a specialized group of
persons whose work should be biological research untrammelled by the
intoxication of flight.

The brilliant cripples that resulted from this policy looked at
existence from a new angle. Deprived of the supreme experience for
which their fellows lived, envious of a bliss which they knew only by
report, yet contemptuous of the na´ve mentality which cared for
nothing (it seemed) but physical exercise, love-making, the beauty of
nature, and the elegances of society, these flightless intelligences
sought satisfaction almost wholly in the life of research and
scientific control. At the best, however, they were a tortured and
resentful race. For their natures were fashioned for the aerial life
which they could not lead. Although they received from the winged folk
just treatment and a certain compassionate respect, they writhed under
this kindness, locked their hearts against all the orthodox values,
and sought out new ideals. Within a few centuries they had
rehabilitated the life of intellect, and, with the power that
knowledge gives, they had made themselves masters of the world. The
amiable fliers were surprised, perplexed, even pained; and yet withal
amused. Even when it became evident that the pedestrians were
determined to create a new world order in which there would be no place
for the beauties of natural flight, the fliers were only distressed
while they were on the ground.

The islands were becoming crowded with machinery and flightless
industrialists. In the air itself the winged folk found themselves
outstripped by the base but effective instruments of mechanical
flight. Wings became a laughing stock, and the life of natural flight
was condemned as a barren luxury. It was ordained that in future every
flier must serve the pedestrian world-order, or starve. And as the
cultivation of wind borne plants had been abandoned, and fishing and
fowling rights were strictly controlled, this law was no empty form.
At first it was impossible for the fliers to work on the ground for
long hours, day after day, without incurring serious ill-health and an
early death. But the pedestrian physiologists invented a drug which
preserved the poor wage-slaves in something like physical health, and
actually prolonged their life. No drug, however, could restore their
spirit, for their normal aerial habit was reduced to a few tired hours
of recreation once a week. Meanwhile, breeding experiments were
undertaken to produce a wholly wingless large-brained type. And
finally a law was enacted by which all winged infants must be either
mutilated or destroyed. At this point the fliers made an heroic but
ineffectual bid for power. They attacked the pedestrian population
from the air. In reply the enemy rode them down in his great
aeroplanes and blew them to pieces with high explosive.

The fighting squadrons of the natural fliers were finally driven to
the ground in a remote and barren island. Thither the whole flying
population, a mere remnant of its former strength, fled out of every
civilized archipelago in search of freedom: the whole population--save
the sick, who committed suicide, and all infants that could not yet
fly. These were stifled by their mothers or next-of-kin, in obedience
to a decree of the leaders. About a million men, women and children,
some of whom were scarcely old enough for the prolonged flight, now
gathered on the rocks, regardless that there was not food in the
neighbourhood for a great company.

Their leaders, conferring together, saw clearly that the day of Flying
Man was done, and that it would be more fitting for a high-souled race
to die at once than to drag on in subjection to contemptuous masters.
They therefore ordered the population to take part in an act of racial
suicide that should at least make death a noble gesture of freedom.
The people received the message while they were resting on the stony
moorland. A wail of sorrow broke from them. It was checked by the
speaker, who bade them strive to see, even on the ground, the beauty
of the thing that was to be done. They could not see it; but they knew
that if they had the strength to take wing again they would see it
clearly, almost as soon as their tired muscles bore them aloft. There
was no time to waste, for many were already faint with hunger, and
anxious lest they should fail to rise. At the appointed signal the
whole population rose into the air with a deep roar of wings. Sorrow
was left behind. Even the children, when their mothers explained what
was to be done, accepted their fate with zest; though, had they
learned of it on the ground, they would have been terror-stricken. The
company now flew steadily west, forming themselves into a double file
many miles long. The cone of a volcano appeared over the horizon, and
rose as they approached. The leaders pressed on towards its ruddy
smoke plume; and unflinchingly, couple by couple, the whole multitude
darted into its fiery breath and vanished. So ended the career of
Flying Man.


3. A MINOR ASTRONOMICAL EVENT


The flightless yet still half avian race that now possessed the planet
settled down to construct a society based on industry and science.
After many vicissitudes of fortune and of aim, they produced a new
human species, the Eighth Men. These long-headed and substantial folk
were designed to be strictly pedestrian, physically and mentally. Apt
for manipulation, calculation and invention, they very soon turned
Venus into an engineer's paradise. With power drawn from the planet's
central heat, their huge electric ships bored steadily through the
perennial monsoons and hurricanes, which also their aircraft treated
with contempt. Islands were joined by tunnels and by millipede
bridges. Every inch of land served some industrial or agricultural
end. So successfully did the generations amass wealth that their rival
races and rival castes were able to indulge, every few centuries, in
vast revelries of mutual slaughter and material destruction without,
as a rule, impoverishing their descendants. And so insensitive had man
become that these orgies shamed him not at all. Indeed, only by the
ardours of physical violence could this most philistine species wrench
itself for a while out of its complacency. Strife which to nobler
beings would have been a grave spiritual disaster, was for these a
tonic, almost a religious exercise. These cathartic paroxysms, it
should be observed, were but the rare and brief crises which
automatically punctuated ages of stolid peace. At no time did they
threaten the existence of the species; seldom did they even destroy
its civilization.

It was after a lengthy period of peace and scientific advancement that
the Eighth Men made a startling astronomical discovery. Ever since the
First Men had learned that in the life of every star there comes a
critical moment when the great orb collapses, shrinking to a minute,
dense grain with feeble radiation, man had periodically suspected that
the sun was about to undergo this change, and become a typical "White
Dwarf." The Eighth Men detected sure signs of the catastrophe, and
predicted its date. Twenty thousand years they gave themselves before
the change should begin. In another fifty thousand years, they
guessed, Venus would probably be frozen and uninhabitable. The only
hope was to migrate to Mercury during the great change, when that
planet was already ceasing to be intolerably hot. It was necessary
then to give Mercury an atmosphere, and to breed a new species which
should be capable of adapting itself finally to a world of extreme
cold.

This desperate operation was already on foot when a new astronomical
discovery rendered it futile. Astronomers detected, some distance from
the solar system, a volume of non-luminous gas. Calculation showed
that this object and the sun were approaching one another at a
tangent, and that they would collide, Further calculation revealed the
probable results of this event. The sun would flare up and expand
prodigiously. Life would be quite impossible on any of the planets
save, just possibly, Uranus, and more probably Neptune. The three
planets beyond Neptune would escape roasting, but were unsuitable for
other reasons, The two outermost would remain glacial, and, moreover,
lay beyond the range of the imperfect etherships of the Eighth Men.
The innermost was practically a bald globe of iron, devoid not merely
of atmosphere and water, but also of the normal covering of rock.
Neptune alone might be able to support life; but how could even
Neptune be populated? Not only was its atmosphere very unsuitable, and
its gravitational pull such as to make man's body an intolerable
burden, but also up to the time of the collision it would remain
excessively cold. Not till after the collision could it support any
kind of life known to man.

How these difficulties were overcome I have no time to tell, though
the story of man's attack upon his final home is well worthy of
recording, Nor can I tell in detail of the conflict of policy which
now occurred, Some, realizing that the Eighth Men themselves could
never live on Neptune, advocated an orgy of pleasure-living till the
end, But at length the race excelled itself in an almost unanimous
resolve to devote its remaining centuries to the production of a human
being capable of carrying the torch of mentality into a new world.

Ether-vessels were able to reach that remote world and set up chemical
changes for the improvement of the atmosphere. It was also possible,
by means of the lately rediscovered process of automatic annihilation
of matter, to produce a constant supply of energy for the warming of
an area where life might hope to survive until the sun should be
rejuvenated.

When at last the time for migration was approaching, a specially
designed vegetation was shipped to Neptune and established in the warm
area to fit it for man's use. Animals, it was decided, would be
unnecessary. Subsequently a specially designed human species, the
Ninth Men, was transported to man's new home. The giant Eighth Men
could not themselves inhabit Neptune. The trouble was not merely that
they could scarcely support their own weight, let alone walk, but that
the atmospheric pressure on Neptune was unendurable. For the great
planet bore a gaseous envelope thousands of miles deep. The solid
globe was scarcely more than the yolk of a huge egg. The mass of the
air itself combined with the mass of the solid to produce a
gravitational pressure greater than that upon the Venerian ocean
floor. The Eighth Men, therefore, dared not emerge from their
ether-ships to tread the surface of the planet save for brief spells in
steel diving suits, For them there was nothing else to do but to
return to the archipelagos of Venus, and make the best of life until
the end. They were not spared for long. A few centuries after the
settlement of Neptune had been completed by transferring thither all
the most precious material relics of humanity, the great planet itself
narrowly missed collision with the dark stranger from space. Uranus
and Jupiter were at the time well out of its track. Not so Saturn,
which, a few years after Neptune's escape, was engulfed with all its
rings and satellites. The sudden incandescence which resulted from
this minor collision was but a prelude. The huge foreigner rushed on.
Like a finger poked into a spider's web, it tangled up the planetary
orbits. Having devoured its way through the asteroids, it missed Mars,
caught Earth and Venus in its blazing hair, and leapt at the sun.
Henceforth the centre of the solar system was a star nearly as wide as
the old orbit of Mercury, and the system was transformed.



CHAPTER XIV. NEPTUNE


1. BIRD'S-EYE VIEW


I have told man's story up to a point about half-way from his origin
to his annihilation, Behind lies the vast span which includes the
whole Terrestrial and Venerian ages, with all their slow fluctuations
of darkness and enlightenment. Ahead lies the Neptunian age, equally
long, equally tragic perhaps, but more diverse, and in its last phase
incomparably more brilliant. It would not be profitable to recount the
history of man on Neptune on the scale of the preceding chronicle.
Very much of it would be incomprehensible to terrestrials, and much of
it repeats again and again, in the many Neptunian modes, themes that
we have already observed in the Terrestrial or the Venerian movements
of the human symphony. To appreciate fully the range and subtlety of
the great living epic, we ought, no doubt, to dwell on its every
movement with the same faithful care. But this is impossible to any
human mind. We can but attend to significant phrases, here and there,
and hope to capture some fragmentary hint of its vast intricate form,
And for the readers of this book, who are themselves tremors in the
opening bars of the music, it is best that I should dwell chiefly on
things near to them, even at the cost of ignoring much that is in fact
greater.

Before continuing our long flight let us look around us. Hitherto we
have passed over time's fields at a fairly low altitude, making many
detailed observations. Now we shall travel at a greater height and
with speed of a new order. We must therefore orientate ourselves
within the wider horizon that opens around us; we must consider things
from the astronomical rather than the human point of view. I said that
we were halfway from man's beginning to his end, Looking back to that
remote beginning we see that the span of time which includes the whole
career of the First Men from Pithecanthropus to the Patagonian
disaster is an unanalysable point. Even the preceding and touch longer
period between the first mammal and the first man, some twenty-five
millions of terrestrial years, seems now inconsiderable. The whole of
it, together with the age of the First Men, may be said to lie
half-way between the formation of the planets, two thousand million years
earlier, and their final destruction, two thousand million years
later, Taking a still wider view, we see that this aeon of four
thousand million years is itself no more than a moment in comparison
with the sun's age. And before the birth of the sun the stuff of this
galaxy had already endured for aeons as a nebula. Yet even those aeons
look brief in relation to the passage of time before the myriad great
nebula themselves, the future galaxies, condensed out of the
all-pervading mist in the beginning. Thus the whole duration of humanity,
with its many sequent species and its incessant downpour of
generations, is but a flash in the lifetime of the cosmos.

Spatially, also, man is inconceivably minute. If in imagination we
reduce this galaxy of ours to the size of an ancient terrestrial
principality, we must suppose it adrift in the void with millions of
other such principalities, very remote from one another. On the same
scale the all-embracing cosmos would bulk as a sphere whose diameter
was some twenty times greater than that of the lunar orbit in your
day; and somewhere within the little wandering asteroid-like
principality which is our own universe, the solar system would be an
ultramicroscopic point, the greatest planet incomparably smaller.

We have watched the fortunes of eight successive human species for a
thousand million years, the first half of that flicker which is the
duration of man. Ten more species now succeed one another, or are
contemporary, on the plains of Neptune. We, the Last Men, are the
Eighteenth Men. Of the eight pre-Neptunian species, some, as we have
seen, remained always primitive; many achieved at least a confused and
fleeting civilization, and one, the brilliant Fifth, was already
wakening into true humanity when misfortune crushed it. The ten
Neptunian species show an even greater diversity. They range from the
instinctive animal to modes of consciousness never before attained.
The definitely sub-human degenerate types are confined mostly to the
first six hundred million years of man's sojourn on Neptune. During
the earlier half of this long phase of preparation, man, at first
almost crushed out of existence by a hostile environment, gradually
peopled the huge north; but with beasts, not men. For man, as man, no
longer existed. During the latter half of the preparatory six hundred
million years, the human spirit gradually awoke again, to undergo the
fluctuating advance and decline characteristic of the pre-Neptunian
ages. But subsequently, in the last four hundred million years of his
career on Neptune, man has made an almost steady progress toward full
spiritual maturity.

Let us now look rather more closely at these three great epochs of
man's history.


2. DA CAPO


It was in desperate haste that the last Venerian men had designed and
fashioned the new species for the colonization of Neptune. The mere
remoteness of the great planet, moreover, had prevented its nature
from being explored at all thoroughly, and so the new human organism
was but partially adapted to its destined environment. Inevitably it
was a dwarf type, limited in size by the necessity of resisting an
excessive gravitation. Its brain was so cramped that everything but
the hare essentials of humanity had to be omitted from it. Even so,
the Ninth Men were too delicately organized to withstand the ferocity
of natural forces on Neptune. This ferocity the designers had
seriously underestimated; and so they were content merely to produce a
miniature copy of their own type. They should have planned a hardy
brute, lustily procreative, cunning in the struggle for physical
existence, but above all tough, prolific, and so insensitive as to be
scarcely worthy of the name man. They should have trusted that if once
this crude seed could take root, natural forces themselves would in
time conjure from it something more human. Instead, they produced a
race cursed with the inevitable fragility of miniatures, and designed
for a civilized environment which feeble spirits could not possibly
maintain in a tumultuous world. For it so happened that the still
youthful giant, Neptune, was slowly entering one of his phases of
crustal shrinkage, and therefore of earthquake and eruption. Thus the
frail colonists found themselves increasingly in danger of being
swallowed in sudden fiery crevasses or buried under volcanic dust,
Moreover, their squat buildings, when not actually being trampled by
lava streams, or warped and cracked by their shifting foundations,
were liable to be demolished by the battering-ram thrust of a
turbulent and massive atmosphere. Further, the atmosphere's
unwholesome composition killed all possibility of cheerfulness and
courage in a race whose nature was doomed to be, even in favourable
circumstances, neurotic.

Fortunately this agony could not last indefinitely. Little by little,
civilization crumbled into savagery, the torturing vision of better
things was lost, man's consciousness was narrowed and coarsened into
brute-consciousness. By good luck the brute precariously survived.

Long after the Ninth Men had fallen from man's estate, nature herself,
in her own slow and blundering manner, succeeded where man had failed.
The brute descendants of this human species became at length well
adapted to their world. In time there arose a wealth of sub-human
forms in the many kinds of environment afforded by the lands and seas
of Neptune. None of them penetrated far toward the Equator, for the
swollen sun had rendered the tropics at this time far too hot to
support life of any kind. Even at the pole the protracted summer put a
great strain on all but the most hardy creatures.

Neptune's year was at this time about one hundred and sixty-five times
the length of the old terrestrial year. The slow seasonal change had
an important effect on life's own rhythms. All but the most ephemeral
organisms tended to live through at least one complete year, and the
higher mammals survived longer. At a much later stage this natural
longevity was to play a great and beneficial part in the revival of
man. But, on the other hand, the increasing sluggishness of individual
growth, the length of immaturity in each generation, retarded the
natural evolutionary process on Neptune, so that compared with the
Terrestrial and Venerian epochs the biological story now moves at a
snail's pace.

After the fall of the Ninth Men the sub-human creatures had one and
all adopted a quadruped habit, the better to cope with gravity. At
first they had indulged merely in occasional support from their
knuckles, but in time many species of true quadrupeds had appeared. In
several of the running types the fingers, like the toes, had grown
together, and a hoof had developed, not on the old fingertips, which
were bent back and atrophied, but on the knuckles.

Two hundred million years after the solar collision innumerable
species of sub-human grazers with long sheep-like muzzles, ample
molars, and almost ruminant digestive systems, were competing with one
another on the polar continent. Upon these preyed the sub-human
carnivora, of whom some were built for speed in the chase, others for
stalking and a sudden spring. But since jumping was no easy matter on
Neptune, the cat-like types were all minute. They preyed upon man's
more rabbit-like and rat-like descendants, or on the carrion of the
larger mammals, or on the lusty worms and beetles. These had sprung
originally from vermin which had been transported accidentally from
Venus. For of all the ancient Venerian fauna only man himself, a few
insects and other invertebrates, and many kinds of micro-organisms,
succeeded in colonizing Neptune. Of plants, many types had been
artificially bred for the new world, and from these eventually arose a
host of grasses, flowering plants, thick-trunked bushes, and novel
sea-weeds. On this marine flora fed certain highly developed marine
worms; and of these last, some in time became vertebrate, predatory,
swift and fish-like. On these in turn man's own marine descendants
preyed, whether as sub-human seals, or still more specialized subhuman
porpoises. Perhaps most remarkable of these developments of the
ancient human stock was that which led, through a small insectivorous
bat-like glider, to a great diversity of true flying mammals, scarcely
larger than humming birds, but in some cases agile as swallows.

Nowhere did the typical human form survive. There were only beasts,
fitted by structure and instinct to some niche or other of their
infinitely diverse and roomy world.

Certainly strange vestiges of human mentality did indeed persist here
and there even as, in the fore-limbs of most species, there still
remained buried the relics of man's once cunning fingers. For
instance, there were certain grazers which in times of hardship would
meet together and give tongue in cacophonous ululation; or, sitting on
their haunches with forelimbs pressed together, they would listen by
the hour to the howls of some leader, responding intermittently with
groans and whimpers, and working themselves at last into foaming
madness. And there were carnivora which, in the midst of the spring-time
fervour, would suddenly cease from love-making, fighting, and the
daily routine of hunting, to sit alone in some high place day after
day, night after night, watching, waiting; until at last hunger forced
them into action.

Now in the fullness of time, about three hundred million terrestrial
years after the solar collision, a certain minute, hairless, rabbit-like
creature, scampering on the polar grasslands, found itself
greatly persecuted by a swift hound from the south, The sub-human
rabbit was relatively unspecialized, and had no effective means of
defence or flight. It was almost exterminated. A few individuals,
however, saved themselves by taking to the dense and thick-trunked
scrub, whither the hound could not follow them. Here they had to
change their diet and manner of life, deserting grass for roots,
berries, and even worms and beetles. Their fore-limbs were now
increasingly used for digging and climbing, and eventually for weaving
nests of stick and straw. In this species the fingers had never grown
together. Internally the fore-paw was like a minute clenched fist from
the elongated and exposed knuckles of which separate toes protruded.
And now the knuckles elongated themselves still further, becoming in
time a new set of fingers. Within the palm of the new little monkey-hand
there still remained traces of man's ancient fingers, bent in
upon themselves.

As of old, manipulation gave rise to clearer percipience. And this, in
conjunction with the necessity of frequent experiments in diet,
hunting, and defence, produced at length a real versatility of
behaviour and suppleness of mind. The rabbit throve, adopted an almost
upright gait, continued to increase in stature and in brain. Yet, just
as the new hand was not merely a resurrection of the old hand, so the
new regions of the brain were no mere revival of the atrophied human
cerebrum, but a new organ, which overlaid and swallowed up that
ancient relic. The creature's mind, therefore, was in many respects a
new mind, though moulded to the same great basic needs. Like his
forerunners, of course, he craved food, love, glory, companionship. In
pursuit of these ends he devised weapons and traps, and built wicker
villages. He held pow-wows. He became the Tenth Men.


3. SLOW CONQUEST


For a million terrestrial years these long-armed hairless beings were
spreading their wicker huts and bone implements over the great
northern continents, and for many more millions they remained in
possession without making further cultural progress; for evolution,
both biological and cultural, was indeed slow on Neptune. At last the
Tenth Men were attacked by a microorganism and demolished. From their
ruins several primitive human species developed, and remained isolated
in remote territories for millions of decades, until at length chance
or enterprise brought them into contact. One of these early species,
crouched and tusked, was persistently trapped for its ivory by an
abler type, till it was exterminated. Another, long of muzzle and
large of base, habitually squatted on its haunches like the kangaroo.
Shortly after this industrious and social species had discovered the
use of the wheel, a more primitive but more war-like type crashed into
it like a tidal wave and overwhelmed it. Erect, but literally almost
as broad as they were tall, these chunkish and bloody-minded savages
spread over the whole arctic and sub-arctic region and spent some
millions of years in monotonous reiteration of progress and decline;
until at last a slow decay of their germ-plasm almost ended man's
career. But after an aeon of darkness, there appeared another thick-set,
but larger brained, species. This, for the first time on Neptune,
conceived the religion of love, and all those spiritual cravings and
agonies which had flickered in man so often and so vainly upon Earth
and Venus. There appeared again feudal empires, militant nations,
economic class wars, and, not once but often, a world-state covering
the whole northern hemisphere. These men it was that first crossed the
equator in artificially cooled electric ships, and explored the huge
south. No life of any kind was discovered in the southern hemisphere;
for even in that age no living matter could have crossed the roasting
tropics without artificial refrigeration. Indeed, it was only because
the sun's temporary revival had already passed its zenith that even
man, with all his ingenuity, could endure a long tropical voyage.

Like the First Men and so many other natural human types, these
Fourteenth Men were imperfectly human. Like the First Men, they
conceived ideals of conduct which their imperfectly organized nervous
systems could never attain and seldom approach. Unlike the First Men,
they survived with but minor biological changes for three hundred
million years. But even so long a period did not enable them to
transcend their imperfect spiritual nature. Again and again and again
they passed from savagery to world-civilization and back to savagery.
They were captive within their own nature, as a bird in a cage. And as
a caged bird may fumble with nest-building materials and periodically
destroy the fruit of its aimless toil, so these cramped beings
destroyed their civilizations.

At length, however, this second phase of Neptunian history, this era
of fluctuation, was brought to an end. At the close of the six hundred
million years after the first settlement of the planet, unaided nature
produced, in the fifteenth human species, that highest form of natural
man which she had produced only once before, in the second species.
And this time no Martians interfered, We must not stay to watch the
struggle of this great-headed man to overcome his one serious
handicap, excessive weight of cranium and unwieldy proportions of
body. Suffice it that after a long-drawn-out immaturity, including one
great mechanized war between the northern and southern hemispheres,
the Fifteenth Men outgrew the ailments and fantasies of youth, and
consolidated themselves as a single world-community. This civilization
was based economically on volcanic power, and spiritually on devotion
to the fulfillment of human capacity. It was this species which, for
the first time on Neptune, conceived, as an enduring racial purpose,
the will to remake human nature upon an ampler scale.

Henceforth in spite of many disasters, such as another period of
earthquake and eruption, sudden climatic changes, innumerable plagues
and biological aberrations, human progress was relatively steady. It
was not by any means swift and sure. There were still to be ages,
often longer than the whole career of the First Men, in which the
human spirit would rest from its pioneering to consolidate its
conquests, or would actually stray into the wilderness. But never
again, seemingly, was it to be routed and crushed into mere animality.

In tracing man's final advance to full humanity we can observe only
the broadest features of a whole astronomical era. But in fact it is
an era crowded with many thousands of long-lived generations. Myriads
of individuals, each one unique, live out their lives in rapt
intercourse with one another, contribute their heart's pulses to the
universal music, and presently vanish, giving place to others. All
this age-long sequence of private living, which is the actual tissue
of humanity's flesh, I cannot describe. I can only trace, as it were,
the disembodied form of its growth.

The Fifteenth Men first set themselves to abolish five great evils,
namely, disease, suffocating toil, senility, misunderstanding, ill-will.
The story of their devotion, their many disastrous experiments
and ultimate triumph, cannot here be told. Nor can I recount how they
learned and used the secret of deriving power from the annihilation of
matter, nor how they invented ether ships for the exploration of
neighbouring planets, nor how, after ages of experiments, they
designed and produced a new species, the Sixteenth, to supersede
themselves.

The new type was analogous to the ancient Fifth, which had colonized
Venus. Artificial rigid atoms had been introduced into its
bone-tissues, so that it might support great stature and an ample brain;
in which, moreover, an exceptionally fine-grained cellular structure
permitted a new complexity of organization. "Telepathy," also, was
once more achieved, not by means of the Martian units, which had long
ago become extinct, but by the synthesis of new molecular groups of a
similar type. Partly through the immense increase of mutual
understanding, which resulted from "telepathic" _rapport_, partly
through improved co-ordination of the nervous system, the ancient evil
of selfishness was entirely and finally abolished from the normal
human being. Egoistic impulses, whenever they refused to be
subordinated, were henceforth classed as symptoms of insanity. The
sensory powers of the new species were, of course, greatly improved;
and it was even given a pair of eyes in the back of the head.
Henceforth man was to have a circular instead of a semicircular field
of vision. And such was the general intelligence of the new race that
many problems formerly deemed insoluble were now solved in a single
flash of insight.

Of the great practical uses to which the Sixteenth Men put their
powers, one only need be mentioned as an example. They gained control
of the movement of their planet. Early in their career they were able,
with the unlimited energy at their disposal, to direct it into a wider
orbit, so that its average climate became more temperate, and snow
occasionally covered the polar regions. But as the ages advanced, and
the sun became steadily less ferocious, it became necessary to reverse
this process and shift the planet gradually nearer to the sun.

When they had possessed their world for nearly fifty million years,
the Sixteenth Men, like the Fifth before them, learned to enter into
past minds, For them this was a more exciting adventure than for their
forerunners, since they were still ignorant of Terrestrial and
Venerian history. Like their forerunners, so dismayed were they at the
huge volume of eternal misery in the past, that for a while, in spite
of their own great blessings and spontaneous gaiety, existence seemed
a mockery. But in time they came to regard the past's misery as a
challenge. They told themselves that the past was calling to them for
help, and that somehow they must prepare a great "crusade to liberate
the past." How this was to be done, they could not conceive; but they
were determined to bear in mind this quixotic aim in the great
enterprise which had by now become the chief concern of the race,
namely the creation of a human type of an altogether higher order.

It had become clear that man had by now advanced in understanding and
creativeness as far as was possible to the individual human brain
acting in physical isolation. Yet the Sixteenth Men were oppressed by
their own impotence. Though in philosophy they had delved further than
had ever before been possible, yet even at their deepest they found
only the shifting sands of mystery. In particular they were haunted by
three ancient problems, two of which were purely intellectual, namely
the mystery of time and the mystery of mind's relation to the world.
Their third problem was the need somehow to reconcile their confirmed
loyalty to life, which they conceived as embattled against death, with
their ever-strengthening impulse to rise above the battle and admire
it dispassionately.

Age after age the races of the Sixteenth Men blossomed with culture
after culture. The movement of thought ranged again and again through
all the possible modes of the spirit, ever discovering new
significance in ancient themes. Yet throughout this epoch the three
great problems remained unsolved, perplexing the individual and
vitiating the policy of the race.

Forced thus at length to choose between spiritual stagnation and a
perilous leap in the dark, the Sixteenth Men determined to set about
devising a type of brain which, by means of the mental fusion of many
individuals, might waken into an altogether new mode of consciousness.
Thus, it was hoped, man might gain insight into the very heart of
existence, whether finally to admire or loathe. And thus the racial
purpose, which had been so much confused by philosophical ignorance,
might at last become clear.

Of the hundred million years which passed before the Sixteenth Men
produced the new human type, I must not pause to tell, They thought
they had achieved their hearts' desire; but in fact the glorious
beings which they had produced were tortured by subtle imperfections
beyond their makers' comprehension. Consequently, no sooner had these
Seventeenth Men peopled the world and attained full cultural stature,
than they also bent all their strength to the production of a new
type, essentially like their own, but perfected. Thus after a brief
career of a few hundred thousand years, crowded with splendour and
agony, the Seventeenth gave place to the Eighteenth, and, as it turns
out, the Last, human species. Since all the earlier cultures find
their fulfillment in the world of the Last Men, I pass over them to
enlarge somewhat upon our modern age.



CHAPTER XV. THE LAST MEN


1. INTRODUCTION TO THE LAST HUMAN SPECIES


If one of the First Men could enter the world of the Last Men, he
would find many things familiar and much that would seem strangely
distorted and perverse. But nearly everything that is most distinctive
of the last human species would escape him. Unless he were to be told
that behind all the obvious and imposing features of civilization,
behind all the social organization and personal intercourse of a great
community, lay a whole other world of spiritual culture, round about
him, yet beyond his ken, he would no more suspect its existence than a
cat in London suspects the existence of finance or literature.

Among the familiar things that he would encounter would be creatures
recognizably human yet in his view grotesque. While he himself
laboured under the weight of his own body, these giants would be
easily striding. He would consider them very sturdy, often thick-set,
folk, but he would be compelled to allow them grace of movement and
even beauty of proportion. The longer he stayed with them the more
beauty he would see in them, and the less complacently would he regard
his own type. Some of these fantastic men and women he would find
covered with fur, hirsute, or mole-velvet, revealing the underlying
muscles. Others would display brown, yellow or ruddy skin, and yet
others a translucent ash-green, warmed by the under-flowing blood, As
a species, though we are all human, we are extremely variable in body
and mind, so variable that superficially we seem to be not one species
but many. Some characters, of course, are common to all of us, The
traveller might perhaps be surprised by the large yet sensitive hands
which are universal, both in men and women. In all of us the outermost
finger bears at its tip three minute organs of manipulation, rather
similar to those which were first devised for the Fifth Men, These
excrescences would doubtless revolt our visitor. The pair of occipital
eyes, too, would shock him; so would the upward-looking astronomical
eye on the crown, which is peculiar to the Last Men, This organ was so
cunningly designed that, when fully extended, about a hand-breadth
from its bony case, it reveals the heavens in as much detail as your
smaller astronomical telescopes. Apart from such special features as
these, there is nothing definitely novel about us; though every limb,
every contour, shows unmistakably that much has happened since the
days of the First Men. We are both more human and more animal. The
primitive explorer might be more readily impressed by our animality
than our humanity, so much of our humanity would lie beyond his grasp.
He would perhaps at first regard us as a degraded type. He would call
us faun-like, and in particular cases, ape-like, bear-like, ox-like,
marsupial, or elephantine. Yet our general proportions are definitely
human in the ancient manner. Where gravity is not insurmountable, the
erect biped form is bound to be most serviceable to intelligent land
animals; and so, after long wanderings, man has returned to his old
shape. Moreover, if our observer were himself at all sensitive to
facial expression, he would come to recognize in every one of our
innumerable physiognomic types an indescribable but distinctively
human look, the visible sign of that inward and spiritual grace which
is not wholly absent from his own species. He would perhaps say,
"These men that are beasts are surely gods also." He would be reminded
of those old Egyptian deities with animal heads. But in us the animal
and the human interpenetrate in every feature, in every curve of the
body, and with infinite variety. He would observe us, together with
hints of the long-extinct Mongol, Negro, Nordic, and Semetic, many
outlandish features and expressions, deriving from the sub-human
period on Neptune, or from Venus. He would see in every limb
unfamiliar contours of muscle, sinew or bone, which were acquired long
after the First Men had vanished, Besides the familiar eye-colours, he
would discover orbs of topaz, emerald, amethyst and ruby, and a
thousand varieties of these, But in all of us he would see also, if he
had discernment, a facial expression and bodily gesture peculiar to
our own species, a certain luminous, yet pungent and ironical
significance, which we miss almost wholly in the earlier human faces.

The traveller would recognize among us unmistakable sexual features,
both of general proportions and special organs. But it would take him
long to discover that some of the most striking bodily and facial
differences were due to differentiation of the two ancient sexes into
many sub-sexes. Full sexual experience involves for us a complicated
relationship between individuals of all these types. Of the extremely
important sexual groups I shall speak again.

Our visitor would notice, by the way, that though all persons on
Neptune go habitually nude, save for a pouch or rucksack, clothing,
often brightly coloured, and made of diverse lustrous or homely
tissues unknown before our time, is worn for special purposes.

He would notice also, scattered about the green countryside, many
buildings, mostly of one story; for there is plenty of room on Neptune
even for the million million of the Last Men. Here and there, however,
we have great architectural pylons, cruciform or star-shaped in
section, cloud-piercing, dignifying the invariable planes of Neptune.
These mightiest of all buildings, which are constructed in adamantine
materials formed of artificial atoms, would seem to our visitor
geometrical mountains, far taller than any natural mountain could be,
even on the smallest planet. In many cases the whole fabric is
translucent or transparent, so that at night, with internal
illumination, it appears as an edifice of light. Springing from a base
twenty or more miles across, the star-seeking towers attain a height
where even Neptune's atmosphere is somewhat attenuated. In their
summits work the hosts of our astronomers, the essential eyes through
which our community, on her little raft, peers across the ocean.
Thither also all men and women repair at one time or another to
contemplate this galaxy of ours and the unnumbered remoter universes,
There they perform together those supreme symbolic acts for which I
find no adjective in your speech but the debased word "religious."
There also they seek the refreshment of mountain air in a world where
natural mountains are unknown. And on the pinnacles and precipices of
these loftiest horns many of us gratify that primeval lust of climbing
which was ingrained in man before ever he was man, These buildings
thus combine the functions of observatory, temple, sanatorium and
gymnasium. Some of them are almost as old as the species, some are not
yet completed. They embody, therefore, many styles. The traveller
would find modes which he would be tempted to call Gothic, Classical,
Egyptian, Peruvian, Chinese, or American, besides a thousand
architectural ideas unfamiliar to him. Each of these buildings was the
work of the race as a whole at some stage in its career. None of them
is a mere local product. Every successive culture has expressed itself
in one or more of these supreme monuments. Once in forty thousand
years or so some new architectural glory would be conceived and
executed, And such is the continuity of our cultures that there has
scarcely ever been need to remove the handiwork of the past.

If our visitor happened to be near enough to one of these great
pylons, he would see it surrounded by a swarm of midges, which would
turn out to be human fliers, wingless, but with outspread arms, The
stranger might wonder how a large organism could rise from the ground
in Neptune's powerful field of gravity. Yet flight is our ordinary
means of locomotion. A man has but to put on a suit of overalls fitted
at various points with radiation-generators. Ordinary flight thus
becomes a kind of aerial swimming. Only when very high speed is
desired do we make use of closed-in air-boats and liners.

At the feet of the great buildings the flat or undulating country is
green, brown, golden, and strewn with houses, Our traveller would
recognize that much land was under cultivation, and would see many
persons at work upon it with tools or machinery. Most of our food,
indeed, is produced by artificial photosynthesis on the broiling
planet Jupiter, where even now that the sun is becoming normal again,
no life can exist without powerful refrigeration. As far as mere
nutrition is concerned, we could do without vegetation; but
agriculture and its products have played so great a part in human
history that today agricultural operations and vegetable foods are
very beneficial to the race psychologically. And so it comes about
that vegetable matter is in great demand, not only as raw material for
innumerable manufactures, but also for table delicacies. Green
vegetables, fruit, and various alcoholic fruit drinks have come to
have the same kind of ritual significance for us as wine has for you.
Meat also, though not a part of ordinary diet, is eaten on very rare
and sacred occasions, The cherished wild fauna of the planet
contributes its toll to periodic symbolical banquets. And whenever a
human being has chosen to die, his body is ceremoniously eaten by his
friends.

Communication with the food factories of Jupiter and the agricultural
polar regions of the less torrid Uranus, as also with the automatic
mining stations on the glacial outer planets, is maintained by ether
ships, which, travelling much faster than the planets themselves, make
the passage to the neighbour worlds in a small fraction of the
Neptunian year. These vessels, of which the smallest are about a mile
in length, may be seen descending on our oceans like ducks, Before
they touch the water they cause a prodigious tumult with the downward
pressure of their radiation; but once upon the surface, they pass
quietly into harbour.

The ether ship is in a manner symbolic of our whole community, so
highly organized is it, and so minute in relation to the void which
engulfs it. The ethereal navigators, because they spend so much of
their time in the empty regions, beyond the range of "telepathic"
communication and sometimes even of mechanical radio, form mentally a
unique class among us. They are a hardy, simple, and modest folk, And
though they embody man's proud mastery of the ether, they are never
tired of reminding landlubbers, with dour jocularity, that the most
daring voyages are confined within one drop of the boundless ocean of
space.

Recently an exploration ship returned from a voyage into the outer
tracts. Half her crew had died. The survivors were emaciated,
diseased, and mentally unbalanced. To a race that thought itself so
well established in sanity that nothing could disturb it, the
spectacle of these unfortunates was instructive. Throughout the
voyage, which was the longest ever attempted, they had encountered
nothing whatever but two comets, and an occasional meteor. Some of the
nearer constellations were seen with altered forms. One or two stars
increased slightly in brightness; and the sun was reduced to being the
most brilliant of stars. The aloof and changeless presence of the
constellations seems to have crazed the voyagers. When at last the
ship returned and berthed, there was a scene such as is seldom
witnessed in our modern world. The crew flung open the ports and
staggered blubbering into the arms of the crowd. It would never have
been believed that members of our species could be so far reduced from
the self-possession that is normal to us. Subsequently these poor
human wrecks have shown an irrational phobia of the stars, and of all
that is not human. They dare not go out at night. They live in an
extravagant passion for the presence of others. And since all others
are astronomically minded, they cannot find real companionship. They
insanely refuse to participate in the mental life of the race upon the
plane where all things are seen in their just proportions. They cling
piteously to the sweets of individual life; and so they are led to
curse the immensities. They fill their minds with human conceits, and
their houses with toys. By night they draw the curtains and drown the
quiet voice of the stars in revelry. But it is a joyless and a haunted
revelry, desired less for itself than as a defence against reality.


2. CHILDHOOD AND MATURITY


I said that we were all astronomically minded; but we are not without
"human" interests. Our visitor from the earth would soon discover that
the low buildings, sprinkled on all sides, were the homes of
individuals, families, sexual groups, and bands of companions. Most of
these buildings are so constructed that the roof and walls can be
removed, completely or partially, for sun-bathing and for the night.
Round each house is a wilderness, or a garden, or an orchard of our
sturdy fruit trees. Here and there men and women may be seen at work
with hoe or spade or secateurs. The buildings themselves affect many
styles; and within doors our visitor would find great variety from
house to house. Even within a single house he might come on rooms
seemingly of different epochs. And while some rooms are crowded with
articles, many of which would be incomprehensible to the stranger,
others are bare, save for a table, chairs, a cupboard, and perhaps
some single object of pure art. We have an immense variety of
manufactured goods. But the visitor from a world obsessed with
material wealth would probably remark the simplicity, even austerity,
which characterizes most private houses.

He would doubtless be surprised to see no books. In every room,
however, there is a cupboard filled with minute rolls of tape,
microscopically figured. Each of these rolls contains matter which
could not be cramped into a score of your volumes. They are used in
connexion with a pocket-instrument, the size and shape of the ancient
cigarette case. When the roll is inserted, it reels itself off at any
desired speed, and interferes systematically with ethereal vibrations
produced by the instrument. Thus is generated a very complex flow of
"telepathic" language which permeates the brain of the reader. So
delicate and direct is this medium of expression that there is
scarcely any possibility of misunderstanding the author's intention.
The rolls themselves, it should be said, are produced by another
special instrument, which is sensitive to vibrations generated in the
author's brain. Not that it produces a mere replica of his stream of
consciousness; it records only those images and ideas with which he
deliberately "inscribes" it. I may mention also that, since we can at
any moment communicate by direct "telepathy" with any person on the
planet, these "books" of ours are not used for the publication of
merely ephemeral thought. Each one of them preserves only the threshed
and chosen grains of some mind's harvest.

Other instruments may be observed in our houses, which I cannot pause
to describe, instruments whose office is either to carry out domestic
drudgery, or to minister directly in one way or another to cultured
life. Near the outer door would be hanging a number of flying-suits,
and in a garage attached to the house would be the private air-boats,
gaily coloured torpedo-shaped objects of various sizes.

Decoration in our houses, save in those which belong to children, is
everywhere simple, even severe. None the less we prize it greatly, and
spend much consideration upon it. Children, indeed, often adorn their
houses with splendour, which adults themselves can also enjoy through
children's eyes, even as they can enter into the frolics of infants
with unaffected glee.

The number of children in our world is small in relation to our
immense population. Yet, seeing that every one of us is potentially
immortal, it may be wondered how we can permit ourselves to have any
children at all. The explanation is two-fold. In the first place, our
policy is to produce new individuals of higher type than ourselves,
for we are very far from biologically perfect. Consequently we need a
continuous supply of children. And as these successively reach
maturity, they take over the functions of adults whose nature is less
perfect; and these, when they are aware that they are no longer of
service, elect to retire from life.

But even though every individual, sooner or later, ceases to exist,
the average length of life is not much less than a quarter of a
million terrestrial years. No wonder, then, that we cannot accommodate
many children. But we have more than might be expected, for with us
infancy and adolescence are very lengthy. The foetus is carried for
twenty years. Ectogenesis was practised by our predecessors, but was
abandoned by our own species, because, with greatly improved
motherhood, there is no need for it. Our mothers, indeed, are both
physically and mentally most vigorous during the all too rare period
of pregnancy. After birth, true infancy lasts for about a century.
During this period, in which the foundations of body and mind are
being laid, very slowly, but so securely that they will never fail,
the individual is cared for by his mother. Then follow some centuries
of childhood, and a thousand years of adolescence.

Our children, of course, are very different beings from the children
of the First Men. Though physically they are in many respects still
childlike, they are independent persons in the community. Each has
either a house of his own, or rooms in a larger building held in
common by himself and his friends. Thousands of these are to be found
in the neighbourhood of every educational centre. There are some
children who prefer to live with their parents, or with one or other
of their parents; but this is rare. Though there is often much
friendly intercourse between parents and children, the generations
usually fare better under separate roofs. This is inevitable in our
species. For the adult's overwhelmingly greater experience reveals the
world to him in very different proportions from those which alone are
possible even to the most brilliant of children; while on the other
hand with us the mind of every child is, in some potentiality or
other, definitely superior to every adult mind. Consequently, while
the child can never appreciate what is best in his elders, the adult,
in spite of his power of direct insight into all minds not superior to
himself, is doomed to incomprehension of all that is novel in his own
offspring.

Six or seven hundred years after birth a child is in some respects
physically equivalent to a ten-year-old of the First Men. But since
his brain is destined for much higher development, it is already far
more complex than any adult brain of that species. And though
temperamentally he is in many ways still a child, intellectually he
has already in some respects passed beyond the culture of the best
adult minds of the ancient races. The traveller, encountering one of
our bright boys, might sometimes be reminded of the wise simplicity of
the legendary Child Christ. But also he might equally well discover a
vast exuberance, boisterousness, impishness, and a complete inability
to stand outside the child's own eager life and regard it
dispassionately. In general our children develop intellectually beyond
the level of the First Men long before they begin to develop the
dispassionate will which is characteristic of our adults. When there
is conflict between a child's personal needs and the needs of society,
he will as a rule force himself to the social course; but he does so
with resentment and dramatic self-pity, thereby rendering himself in
the adult view exquisitely ridiculous.

When our children attain physical adolescence, nearly a thousand years
after birth, they leave the safe paths of childhood to spend another
thousand years in one of the antarctic continents, known as the Land
of the Young. Somewhat reminiscent of the Wild Continent of the Fifth
Men, this territory is preserved as virgin bush and prairie. Sub-human
grazers and carnivora abound. Volcanic eruption, hurricanes and
glacial seasons afford further attractions to the adventurous young.
There is consequently a high death-rate. In this land our young people
live the half primitive, half sophisticated life to which their nature
is fitted. They hunt, fish, tend cattle and till the ground. They
cultivate all the simple beauties of human individuality. They love
and hate. They sing, paint, and carve. They devise heroic myths, and
delight in fantasies of direct intercourse with a cosmic person. They
organize themselves as tribes and nations. Sometimes they even indulge
in warfare of a primitive but bloody type. Formerly when this
happened, the adult world interfered; but we have since learned to let
the fever run its course. The loss of life is regrettable; but it is a
small price to pay for the insight afforded even by this restricted
and juvenile warfare, into those primitive agonies and passions which,
when they are experienced by the adult mind, are so transformed by
philosophy that their import is wholly changed. In the Land of the
Young our boys and girls experience all that is precious and all that
is abject in the primitive. They live through in their own persons,
century by century, all its toilsomeness and cramped meanness, all its
blind cruelty and precariousness; but also they taste its glamour, its
vernal and lyrical glory. They make in little all the mistakes of
thought and action that men have ever made; but at last they emerge
ready for the larger and more difficult world of maturity.

It was expected that some day, when we should have perfected the
species, there would be no need to build up successive generations, no
need of children, no need of all this schooling. It was expected that
the community would then consist of adults only; and that they would
be immortal not merely potentially but in fact, yet also, of course,
perennially in the flower of young maturity. Thus, death should never
cut the string of individuality and scatter the hard-won pearls,
necessitating new strings, and laborious re-gatherings. The many and
very delectable beauties of childhood could still be amply enjoyed in
exploration of the past.

We know now that this goal is not to be attained, since man's end is
imminent.


3. A RACIAL AWAKENING


It is easy to speak of children; but how can I tell you anything
significant of our adult experience, in relation to which not only the
world of the First Men but the worlds of the most developed earlier
species seem so na´ve?

The source of the immense difference between ourselves and all other
human races lies in the sexual group, which is in fact much more than
a sexual group.

The designers of our species set out to produce a being that might be
capable of an order of mentality higher than their own. The only
possibility of doing so lay in planning a great increase of brain
organization. But they knew that the brain of an individual human
being could not safely be allowed to exceed a certain weight. They
therefore sought to produce the new order of mentality in a system of
distinct and specialized brains held in "telepathic" unity by means of
ethereal radiation. Material brains were to be capable of becoming on
some occasions mere nodes in a system of radiation which itself should
then constitute the physical basis of a single mind. Hitherto there
had been "telepathic" communication between many individuals, but no
super-individual, or group-mind. It was known that such a unity of
individual minds had never been attained before, save on Mars; and it
was known how lamentably the racial mind of Mars had failed to
transcend the minds of the Martians. By a combination of shrewdness
and good luck the designers hit upon a policy which escaped the
Martian failure. They planned as the basis of the super-individual a
small multi-sexual group.

Of course the mental unity of the sexual group is not the direct
outcome of the sexual intercourse of its members. Such intercourse
does occur. Groups differ from one another very greatly in this
respect; but in most groups all the members of the male sexes have
intercourse with all the members of the female sexes. Thus sex is with
us essentially social. It is impossible for me to give any idea of the
great range and intensity of experience afforded by these diverse
types of union. Apart from this emotional enrichment of the
individuals, the importance of sexual activity in the group lies in
its bringing individuals into that extreme intimacy, temperamental
harmony and complementariness, without which no emergence into higher
experience would be possible.

Individuals are not necessarily confined to the same group for ever.
Little by little a group may change every one of its ninety-six
members, and yet it will remain the same super-individual mind, though
enriched with the memories grafted into it by the new-comers. Very
rarely does an individual leave a group before he has been in it for
ten thousand years. In some groups the members live together in a
common home. In others they live apart. Sometimes an individual will
form a sort of monogamous relation with another individual of his
group, homing with the chosen one for many thousands of years, or even
for a lifetime. Indeed some claim that lifelong monogamy is the ideal
state, so deep and delicate is the intimacy which it affords. But of
course, even in monogamy, each partner must be periodically refreshed
by intercourse with other members of the group, not only for the
spiritual health of the two partners themselves, but also that the
group-mind may be maintained in full vigour. Whatever the sexual
custom of the group, there is always in the mind of each member a very
special loyalty toward the whole group, a peculiar sexually toned
_esprit de corps_, unparalleled in any other species.

Occasionally there is a special kind of group intercourse in which,
during the actual occurrence of group mentality, all the members of
one group will have intercourse with those of another. Casual
intercourse outside the group is not common, but not discouraged. When
it occurs it comes as a symbolic act crowning a spiritual intimacy.

Unlike the physical sex-relationship, the mental unity of the group
involves all the members of the group every time it occurs, and so
long as it persists. During times of group experience the individual
continues to perform his ordinary routine of work and recreation, save
when some particular activity is demanded of him by the group-mind
itself. But all that he does as a private individual is carried out in
a profound absent-mindedness. In familiar situations he reacts
correctly, even to the extent of executing familiar types of
intellectual work or entertaining acquaintances with intelligent
conversation. Yet all the while he is in fact "far away," rapt in the
process of the group-mind. Nothing short of an urgent and unfamiliar
crisis can recall him; and in recalling him it usually puts an end to
the group's experience.

Each member of the group is fundamentally just a highly developed
human animal. He enjoys his food. He has a quick eye for sexual
attraction, within or without the group. He has his personal
idiosyncrasies and foibles, and is pleased to ridicule the foibles of
others--and of himself. He may be one of those who abhor children, or
one of those who enter into children's antics with fervour, if they
will tolerate him. He may move heaven and earth to procure permission
for a holiday in the Land of the Young. And if he fails, as he almost
surely does, he may go walking with a friend, or boating and swimming,
or playing violent games. Or he may merely potter in his garden, or
refresh his mind though not his body by exploring some favourite
region of the past. Recreation occupies a large part of his life. For
this reason he is always glad to get back to work in due season,
whether his function is to maintain some part of the material
organization of our world, or to educate, or to perform scientific
research, or to co-operate in the endless artistic venture of the
race, or, as is more likely, to help in some of those innumerable
enterprises whose nature it is impossible for me to describe.

As a human individual, then, he or she is somewhat of the same type as
a member of the Fifth species. Here once more is the perfected
glandular outfit and instinctive nature. Here too is the highly
developed sense perception and intellection. As in the Fifth species,
so in the Eighteenth, each individual has his own private needs, which
he heartily craves to fulfil; but also, in both species, he
subordinates these private cravings to the good of the race absolutely
and without struggle. The only kind of conflict which ever occurs
between individuals is, not the irreconcilable conflict of wills, but
the conflict due to misunderstanding, to imperfect knowledge of the
matter under dispute; and this can always be abolished by patient
telepathic explication.

In addition to the brain organization necessary to this perfection of
Individual human nature, each member of a sexual group has in his own
brain a special organ which, useless by itself, can co-operate
"telepathically" with the special organs of other members of the group
to produce a single electro-magnetic system, the physical basis of the
group-mind. In each sub-sex this organ has a peculiar form and
function; and only by the simultaneous operation of the whole ninety-six
does the group attain unified mental life. These organs do not
merely enable each member to share the experience of all; for this is
already provided in the sensitivity to radiation which is
characteristic of all brain-tissue in our species. By means of the
harmonious activity of the special organs a true group-mind emerges,
with experience far beyond the range of the individuals in isolation.

This would not be possible did not the temperament and capacity of
each sub-sex differ appropriately from those of the others. I can only
hint at these differences by analogy. Among the First Men there are
many temperamental types whose essential natures the psychologists of
that species never fully analysed. I may mention, however, as
superficial designations of these types, the meditative, the active,
the mystical, the intellectual, the artistic, the theoretical, the
concrete, the placid, the highly-strung. Now our sub-sexes differ from
one another temperamentally in some such manners as these, but with a
far greater range and diversity. These differences of temperament are
utilized for the enrichment of a group self, such as could never have
been attained by the First Men, even if they had been capable of
"telepathic" communication and electro-magnetic unity; for they had
not the range of specialized brain form.

For all the daily business of life, then, each of us is mentally a
distinct individual, though his ordinary means of communication with
others is "telepathic." But frequently he wakes up to be a group-mind.
Apart from this "waking of individuals together," if I may so call it,
the group-mind has no existence; for its being is solely the being of
the individuals comprehended together. When this communal awakening
occurs, each individual experiences all the bodies of the group as
"his own multiple body," and perceives the world equally from all
those bodies. This awakening happens to all the individuals at the
same time. But over and above this simple enlargement of the
experienced field, is the awakening into new kinds of experience. Of
this obviously, I can tell you nothing, save that it differs from the
lowlier state more radically than the infant mind differs from the
mind of the individual adult, and that it consists of insight into
many unsuspected and previously inconceivable features of the familiar
world of men and things. Hence, in our group mode, most, but not all,
of the perennial philosophical puzzles, especially those connected
with the nature of personality, can be so lucidly restated that they
cease to be puzzles.

Upon this higher plane of mentality the sexual groups, and therefore
the individuals participating in them, have social intercourse with
one another as super-individuals. Thus they form together a community
of minded communities. For each group is a person differing from other
groups in character and experience somewhat as individuals differ. The
groups themselves are not allocated to different works, in such a
manner that one group should be wholly engaged in industry, another in
astronomy, and so on. Only the individuals are thus allocated. In each
group there will be members of many professions. The function of the
group itself is purely some special manner of insight and mode of
appreciation; in relation to which, of course, the work of the
individuals is constantly controlled, not only while they are actually
supporting the group self, but also when they have each fallen once
more into the limited experience which is ordinary individual
selfhood. For though, as individuals, they cannot retain clear insight
into the high matters which they so recently experienced, they do
remember so much as is not beyond the range of individual mentality;
and in particular they remember the bearing of the group experience
upon their own conduct as individuals.

Recently another and far more penetrating kind of experience has been
attained, partly by good fortune, partly through research directed by
the group-minds. For these have specialized themselves for particular
functions in the mental life of the race, as previously the
individuals were specialized for functions within the mind of a group.
Very rarely and precariously has this supreme experience been
achieved. In it the individual passes beyond this group experience,
and becomes the mind of the race. At all times, of course, he can
communicate "telepathically" with other individuals anywhere upon the
planet; and frequently the whole race "listens in" while one
individual addresses the world. But in the true racial experience the
situation is different. The system of radiation which embraces the
whole planet, and includes the million million brains of the race,
becomes the physical basis of a racial self. The individual discovers
himself to be embodied in all the bodies of the race. He savours in a
single intuition all bodily contacts, including the mutual embraces of
all lovers. Through the myriad feet of all men and women he enfolds
his world in a single grasp. He sees with all eyes, and comprehends in
a single vision all visual fields. Thus he perceives at once and as a
continuous, variegated sphere, the whole surface of the planet. But
not only so. He now stands above the group-minds as they above the
individuals. He regards them as a man may regard his own vital
tissues, with mingled contempt, sympathy, reverence, and dispassion.
He watches them as one might study the living cells of his own brain;
but also with the aloof interest of one observing an ant hill; and yet
again as one enthralled by the strange and diverse ways of his fellow
men; and further as one who, from above the battle, watches himself
and his comrades agonizing in some desperate venture; yet chiefly as
the artist who has no thought but for his vision and its embodiment.
In the racial mode a man apprehends all things astronomically. Through
all eyes and all observatories, he beholds his voyaging world, and
peers outward into space. Thus he merges in one view, as it were, the
views of deck-hand, captain, stoker, and the man in the crow's-nest.
Regarding the solar system simultaneously from both limbs of Neptune,
he perceives the planets and the sun stereoscopically, as though in
binocular vision. Further, his perceived "now" embraces not a moment
but a vast age. Thus, observing the galaxy from every point in
succession along Neptune's wide orbit, and watching the nearer stars
shift hither and thither, he actually perceives some of the
constellations in three dimensions. Nay, with the aid of our most
recent instruments the whole galaxy appears stereoscopically. But the
great nebulae and remote universes remain mere marks upon the flat
sky; and, in contemplation of their remoteness, man, even as the racial
self of the mightiest of all human races, realizes his own minuteness
and impotence.

But chiefly the racial mind transcends the minds of groups and
individuals in philosophical insight into the true nature of space and
time, mind and its objects, cosmical striving and cosmical perfection.
Some hints of this great elucidation must presently be given; but in
the main it cannot be communicated. Indeed such insight is beyond the
reach of ourselves as isolated individuals, and even beyond the
group-minds. When we have declined from the racial mentality, we cannot
clearly remember what it was that we experienced.

In particular we have one very perplexing recollection about our
racial experience, one which involves a seeming impossibility. In the
racial mind our experience was enlarged not only spatially but
temporally in a very strange manner. In respect of temporal
perception, of course, minds may differ in two ways, in the length of
the span which they can comprehend as "now," and the minuteness of the
successive events which they can discriminate within the "now." As
individuals we can hold within one "now" a duration equal to the old
terrestrial day; and within that duration, we can if we will,
discriminate rapid pulsations such as commonly we hear together as a
high musical tone. As the race-mind we perceived as "now" the whole
period since the birth of the oldest living individuals, and the whole
past of the species appeared as personal memory, stretching back into
the mists of infancy. Yet we could, if we willed, discriminate within
the "now" one light-vibration from the next. In this mere increased
breadth and precision of temporal perception there is no
contradiction. But how, we ask ourselves, could the race-mind
experience as "now" a vast period in which it had no existence
whatever? Our first experience of racial mentality lasted only as long
as Neptune's moon takes to complete one circuit. Before that period,
then, the race-mind was not. Yet during the month of its existence it
regarded the whole previous career of the race as "present."

Indeed, the racial experience has greatly perplexed us as individuals,
and we can scarcely be said to remember more of it than that it was of
extreme subtlety and extreme beauty. At the same time we often have of
it an impression of unspeakable horror. We who, in our familiar
individual sphere are able to regard all conceivable tragedy not
merely with fortitude but with exultation, are obscurely conscious
that as the racial mind we have looked into an abyss of evil such as
we cannot now conceive, and could not endure to conceive. Yet even
this hell we know to have been acceptable as an organic member in the
austere form of the cosmos. We remember obscurely, and yet with a
strange conviction, that all the age-long striving of the human
spirit, no less than the petty cravings of individuals, was seen as a
fair component in something far more admirable than itself; and that
man ultimately defeated, no less than man for a while triumphant,
contributes to this higher excellence.

How colourless these words! How unworthy of that wholly satisfying
beauty of all things, which in our awakened racial mode we see face to
face. Every human being, of whatever species, may occasionally glimpse
some fragment or aspect of existence transfigured thus with the cold
beauty which normally he cannot see. Even the First Men, in their
respect for tragic art, had something of this experience. The Second,
and still more surely the Fifth, sought it deliberately. The winged
Seventh happened upon it while they were in the air. But their minds
were cramped; and all that they could appreciate was their own small
world and their own tragic story. We, the Last Men, have all their
zest in private and in racial life, whether it fares well or ill. We
have it at all times, and we have it in respect of matters
inconceivable to lesser minds. We have it, moreover, intelligently.
Knowing well how strange it is to admire evil along with good, we see
clearly the subversiveness of this experience. Even we, as mere
individuals, cannot reconcile our loyalty to the striving spirit of
man with our own divine aloofness. And so, if we were mere
individuals, there would remain conflict in each of us. But in the
racial mode each one of us has now experienced the great elucidation
of intellect and of feeling. And though, as individuals once more, we
can never recapture that far-seeing vision, the obscure memory of it
masters us always, and controls all our policies. Among yourselves,
the artist, after his phase of creative insight is passed, and he is
once more a partisan in the struggle for existence, may carry out in
detail the design conceived in his brief period of clarity. He
remembers, but no longer sees the vision. He tries to fashion some
perceptible embodiment of the vanished splendour. So we, living our
individual lives, delighting in the contacts of flesh, the relations
of minds, and all the delicate activities of human culture,
co-operating and conflicting in a thousand individual undertakings and
performing each his office in the material maintenance of our society,
see all things as though transfused With light from a source which is
itself no longer revealed.

I have tried to tell you something of the most distinctive
characteristics of our species. You can imagine that the frequent
occasions of group mentality, and even more the rare occasions of race
mentality, have a far-reaching effect on every individual mind, and
therefore on our whole social order. Ours is in fact a society
dominated, as no previous society, by a single racial purpose which is
in a sense religious. Not that the individual's private efflorescence
is at all thwarted by the racial purpose. Indeed, far otherwise; for
that purpose demands as the first condition of its fulfillment a wealth
of individual fulfillment, physical and mental. But in each mind of man
or woman the racial purpose presides absolutely; and hence it is the
unquestioned motive of all social policy.

I must not stay to describe in detail this society of ours, in which a
million million citizens, grouped in over a thousand nations, live in
perfect accord without the aid of armies or even a police force. I
must not tell of our much prized social organization, which assigns a
unique function to each citizen, controls the procreation of new
citizens of every type in relation to social need, and yet provides an
endless supply of originality. We have no government and no laws, if
by law is meant a stereotyped convention supported by force, and not
to be altered without the aid of cumbersome machinery. Yet, though our
society is in this sense an anarchy, it lives by means of a very
intricate system of customs, some of which are so ancient as to have
become spontaneous taboos, rather than deliberate conventions. It is
the business of those among us who correspond to your lawyers and
politicians to study these customs and suggest improvements. Those
suggestions are submitted to no representative body, but to the whole
world-population in "telepathic" conference. Ours is thus in a sense
the most democratic of all societies. Yet in another sense it is
extremely bureaucratic, since it is already some millions of
terrestrial years since any suggestion put forward by the College of
Organizers was rejected or even seriously criticized, so thoroughly do
these social engineers study their material. The only serious
possibility of conflict lies now between the world population as
individuals and the same individuals as group-minds or racial mind.
But though in these respects there have formerly occurred serious
conflicts, peculiarly distressing to the individuals who experienced
them, such conflicts are now extremely rare. For, even as mere
individuals, we are learning to trust more and more to the judgment
and dictates of our own super-individual experience.

It is time to grapple with the most difficult part of my whole task.
Somehow, and very briefly, I must give you an idea of that outlook
upon existence which has determined our racial purpose, making it
essentially a religious purpose. This outlook has come to us partly
through the work of individuals in scientific research and philosophic
thought, partly through the influence of our group and racial
experiences. You can imagine that it is not easy to describe this
modern vision of the nature of things in any manner intelligible to
those who have not our advantages. There is much in this vision which
will remind you of your mystics; yet between them and us there is far
more difference than similarity, in respect both of the matter and the
manner of our thought. For while they are confident that the cosmos is
perfect, we are sure only that it is very beautiful. While they pass
to their conclusion without the aid of intellect, we have used that
staff every step of the way. Thus, even when in respect of conclusions
we agree with your mystics rather than your plodding intellectuals, in
respect of method we applaud most your intellectuals; for they scorned
to deceive themselves with comfortable fantasies.


4. COSMOLOGY


We find ourselves living in a vast and boundless, yet finite, order of
spatio-temporal events. And each of us, as the racial mind, has
learned that there are other such orders, other and incommensurable
spheres of events, related to our own neither spatially nor temporally
but in another mode of eternal being. Of the contents of those alien
spheres we know almost nothing but that they are incomprehensible to
us, even in our racial mentality.

Within this spatio-temporal sphere of ours we remark what we call the
Beginning and what we call the End. In the Beginning there came into
existence, we know not how, that all-pervading and unimaginably
tenuous gas which was the parent of all material and spiritual
existence within time's known span. It was in fact a very
multitudinous yet precisely numbered host. From the crowding together
of this great population into many swarms, arose in time the nebulae,
each of which in its turn condenses as a galaxy, a universe of stars.
The stars have their beginnings and their ends; and for a few moments
somewhere in between their beginnings and their ends a few, very few,
may support mind. But in due course will come the universal End, when
all the wreckage of the galaxies will have drifted together as a
single, barren, and seemingly changeless ash, in the midst of a chaos
of unavailing energy.

But the cosmic events which we call the Beginning and the End are
final only in relation to our ignorance of the events which lie beyond
them. We know, and as the racial mind we have apprehended as a clear
necessity, that not only space but time also is boundless, though
finite. For in a sense time is cyclic. After the End, events
unknowable will continue to happen during a period much longer than
that which will have passed since the Beginning; but at length there
will recur the identical event which was itself also the Beginning.

Yet though time is cyclic, it is not repetitive; there is no other
time within which it can repeat itself. For time is but an abstraction
from the successiveness of events that pass; and since all events
whatsoever form together a cycle of successiveness, there is nothing
constant in relation to which there can be repetition. And so the
succession of events is cyclic, yet not repetitive. The birth of the
all-pervading gas in the so-called Beginning is not merely _similar_
to another such birth to occur long after us and long after the cosmic
End, so-called; the past Beginning _is_ the future Beginning.

From the Beginning to the End is but the span from one spoke to the
next on time's great wheel. There is a vaster span, stretching beyond
the End and round to the Beginning. Of the events therein we know
nothing, save that there must be such events.

Everywhere within time's cycle there is endless passage of events. In
a continuous flux, they occur and vanish, yielding to their
successors. Yet each one of them is eternal. Though passage is of
their very nature, and without passage they are nothing, yet they have
eternal being. But their passage is no illusion. They have eternal
being, yet eternally they exist with passage. In our racial mode we
see clearly that this is so; but in our individual mode it remains a
mystery. Yet even in our individual mode we must accept both sides of
this mysterious antinomy, as a fiction needed for the rationalizing of
our experience.

The Beginning precedes the End by some hundred million million
terrestrial years, and succeeds it by a period at least nine times
longer. In the middle of the smaller span lies the still shorter
period within which alone the living worlds can occur. And they are
very few. One by one they dawn into mentality and die, successive
blooms in life's short summer. Before that season and after it, even
to the Beginning and to the End, and even before the Beginning and
after the End, sleep, utter oblivion. Not before there are stars, and
not after the stars are chilled, can there be life. And then, rarely.

In our own galaxy there have occurred hitherto some twenty thousand
worlds that have conceived life. And of these a few score have
attained or surpassed the mentality of the First Men. But of those
that have reached this development, man has now outstripped the rest,
and today man alone survives.

There are the millions of other galaxies, for instance the Andromedan
island. We have some reason to surmise that in that favoured universe
mind may have attained to insight and power incomparably greater than
our own. But all that we know for certain is that it contains four
worlds of high order.

Of the host of other universes that lie within range of our
mind-detecting instruments, none have produced anything comparable with
man. But there are many universes too remote to be estimated.

You may wonder how we have come to detect these remote lives and
intelligences. I can say only that the occurrence of mentality
produces certain minute astronomical effects, to which our instruments
are sensitive even at great distances. These effects increase slightly
with the mere mass of living matter on any astronomical body, but far
more with its mental and spiritual development. Long ago it was the
spiritual development of the world-community of the Fifth Men that
dragged the moon from its orbit. And in our own case, so numerous is
our society today, and so greatly developed in mental and spiritual
activities, that only by continuous expense of physical energy can we
preserve the solar system from confusion.

We have another means of detecting minds remote from us in space. We
can, of course, enter into past minds wherever they are, so long as
they are intelligible to us; and we have tried to use this power for
the discovery of remote minded worlds. But in general the experience
of such minds is too different in fibre from our own for us to be able
even to detect its existence. And so our knowledge of minds in other
worlds is almost wholly derived from their physical effects.

We cannot say that nowhere save on those rare bodies called planets
does life ever occur. For we have evidence that in a few of the
younger stars there is life, and even intelligence. How it persists in
an incandescent environment we know not, nor whether it is perhaps the
life of the star as a whole, as a single organism, or the life of many
flame-like inhabitants of the star. All that we know  is that no star
in its prime has life, and therefore that the lives of the younger
ones are probably doomed.

Again, we know that mind occurs, though very seldom, on a few
extremely old stars, no longer incandescent. What the future of these
minds will be, we cannot tell. Perhaps it is with them, and not with
man, that the hope of the cosmos lies. But at present they are all
primitive.

Today nothing anywhere in this galaxy of ours can compare with man in
respect of vision and mental creativeness.

We have, therefore, come to regard our community as of some
importance, especially so in the light of our metaphysics; but I can
only hint at our metaphysical vision of things by means of metaphors
which will convey at best a caricature of that vision.

In the Beginning there was great potency, but little form. And the
spirit slept as the multitude of discrete primordial existents.
Thenceforth there has been a long and fluctuating adventure toward
harmonious complexity of form, and toward the awakening of the spirit
into unity, knowledge, delight and self-expression. And this is the
goal of all living, that the cosmos may be known, and admired, and
that it may be crowned with further beauties. Nowhere and at no time,
so far as we can tell, at least within our own galaxy, has the
adventure reached further than in ourselves. And in us, what has been
achieved is but a minute beginning. But it is a real beginning. Man in
our day has gained some depth of insight, some breadth of knowledge,
some power of creation, some faculty of worship. We have looked far
afield. We have probed not altogether superficially into the nature of
existence, and have found it very beautiful, though also terrible. We
have created a not inconsiderable community; and we have wakened
together to be the unique spirit of that community. We had proposed to
ourselves a very long and arduous future, which should culminate, at
some time before the End, in the complete achievement of the spirit's
ideal. But now we know that disaster is already near at hand.

When we are in full possession of our faculties, we are not distressed
by this fate. For we know that though our fair community must cease,
it has also indestructible being. We have at least carved into one
region of the eternal real a form which has beauty of no mean order.
The great company of diverse and most lovely men and women in all
their subtle relationships, striving with a single purpose toward the
goal which is mind's final goal; the community and super-individuality
of that great host; the beginnings of further insight and creativeness
upon the higher plane--these surely are real achievements--even
though, in the larger view, they are minute achievements.

Yet though we are not at all dismayed by our own extinction, we cannot
but wonder whether or not in the far future some other spirit will
fulfil the cosmic ideal, or whether we ourselves are the modest crown
of existence. Unfortunately, though we can explore the past wherever
there are intelligible minds, we cannot enter into the future. And so
in vain we ask, will ever any spirit awake to gather all spirits into
itself, to elicit from the stars their full flower of beauty, to know
all things together, and admire all things justly?

If in the far future this end will be achieved, it is really achieved
even now; for whenever it occurs, its being is eternal. But on the
other hand if it is indeed achieved eternally, this achievement must
be the work of spirits or a spirit not wholly unlike ourselves, though
infinitely greater. And the physical location of that spirit must lie
in the far future.

But if no future spirit will achieve this end before it dies, then,
though the cosmos is indeed very beautiful, it is not perfect.

I said that we regard the cosmos as very beautiful. Yet it is also
very terrible. For ourselves, it is easy to look forward with
equanimity to our end, and even to the end of our admired community;
for what we prize most is the excellent beauty of the cosmos. But
there are the myriads of spirits who have never entered into that
vision. They have suffered, and they were not permitted that
consolation. There are, first, the incalculable hosts of lowly
creatures scattered over all the ages in all the minded worlds. Theirs
was only a dream life, and their misery not often poignant; but none
the less they are to be pitied for having missed the more poignant
experience in which alone spirit can find fulfillment. Then there are
the intelligent beings, human and otherwise; the many minded worlds
throughout the galaxies, that have struggled into cognizance, striven
for they knew not what, tasted brief delights and lived in the shadow
of pain and death, until at last their life has been crushed out by
careless fate. In our solar system there are the Martians, insanely
and miserably obsessed; the native Venerians, imprisoned in their
ocean and murdered for man's sake; and all the hosts of the
forerunning human species. A few individuals no doubt in every period,
and many in certain favoured races, have lived on the whole happily.
And a few have even known something of the supreme beatitude. But for
most, until our modern epoch, thwarting has outweighed fulfillment; and
if actual grief has not preponderated over joy, it is because,
mercifully, the fulfillment that is wholly missed cannot be conceived.

Our predecessors of the Sixteenth species, oppressed by this vast
horror, undertook a forlorn and seemingly irrational crusade for the
rescue of the tragic past. We see now clearly that their enterprise,
though desperate, was not quite fantastic. For, if ever the cosmic
ideal should be realized, even though for a moment only, then in that
time the awakened Soul of All will embrace within itself all spirits
whatever throughout the whole of time's wide circuit. And so to each
one of them, even to the least, it will seem that he has awakened and
discovered himself to be the Soul of All, knowing all things and
rejoicing in all things. And though afterwards, through the inevitable
decay of the stars, this most glorious vision must be lost, suddenly
or in the long-drawn-out defeat of life, yet would the awakened Soul
of All have eternal being, and in it each martyred spirit would have
beatitude eternally, though unknown to itself in its own temporal
mode.

It may be that this is the case. If not, then eternally the martyred
spirits are martyred only, and not blest.

We cannot tell which of these possibilities is fact. As individuals we
earnestly desire that the eternal being of things may include this
supreme awakening. This, nothing less than this, has been the remote
but ever-present goal of our practical religious life and of our social
policy.

In our racial mode also we have greatly desired this end, but
differently.

Even as individuals, all our desires are tempered by that relentless
admiration of fate which we recognize as the spirit's highest
achievement. Even as individuals, we exult in the issue whether our
enterprises succeed or fail. The pioneer defeated, the lover bereaved
and overwhelmed, can find in his disaster the supreme experience, the
dispassionate ecstasy which salutes the Real as it is and would not
change one jot of it. Even as individuals, we can regard the impending
extinction of mankind as a thing superb though tragic. Strong in the
knowledge that the human spirit has already inscribed the cosmos with
indestructible beauty, and that inevitably, whether sooner or later,
man's career must end, we face this too sudden end with laughter in
our hearts, and peace.

But there is the one thought by which, in our individual state, we are
still dismayed, namely that the cosmos enterprise itself may fail;
that the full potentiality of the Real may never find expression; that
never, in any stage of time, the multitudinous and conflicting
existents should be organized as the universal harmonious living body;
that the spirit's eternal nature, therefore, should be discordant,
miserably tranced; that the indestructible beauties of this our
sphere of space and time should remain imperfect, and remain, too, not
adequately worshipped.

But in the racial mind this ultimate dread has no place. On those few
occasions when we have awakened racially, we have come to regard with
piety even the possibility of cosmical defeat. For as the racial mind,
though in a manner we earnestly desired the fulfillment of the cosmical
ideal, yet we were no more enslaved to this desire than, as
individuals, we are enslaved to our private desires. For though the
racial mind wills this supreme achievement, yet in the same act it
holds itself aloof from it, and from all desire, and all emotion, save
the ecstasy which admires the Real as it is, and accepts its
dark-bright form with joy.

As individuals, therefore, we try to regard the whole cosmic adventure
as a symphony now in progress, which may or may not some day achieve
its just conclusion. Like music, however, the vast biography of the
stars is to be judged not in respect of its final moment merely, but
in respect of the perfection of its whole form; and whether its form
as a whole is perfect or not, we cannot know. Actual music is a
pattern of intertwining themes which evolve and die; and these again
are woven of simpler members, which again are spun of chords and
unitary tones. But the music of the spheres is of a complexity almost
infinitely more subtle, and its themes rank above and below one
another in hierarchy beyond hierarchy. None but a God, none but a mind
subtle as the music itself, could hear the whole in all its detail,
and grasp in one act its close-knit individuality, if such it has. Not
for any human mind to say authoritatively, "This is music, wholly," or
to say, "This is mere noise, flecked now and then by shreds of
significance."

The music of the spheres is unlike other music not only in respect of
its richness, but also in the nature of its medium. It is a music not
merely of sounds but of souls. Each of its minor themes, each of its
chords, each single tone of it, each tremor of each tone, is in its
own degree more than a mere passive factor in the music; it is a
listener, and also a creator. Wherever there is individuality of form,
there is also an individual appreciator and originator. And the more
complex the form, the more percipient and active the spirit. Thus in
every individual factor within the music, the musical environment of
that factor is experienced, vaguely or precisely, erroneously, or with
greater approximation to truth; and, being experienced, it is admired
or loathed, rightly or falsely. And it is influenced. Just as in
actual music each theme is in a manner a determination of its
forerunners and followers and present accompaniment, so in this vaster
music each individual factor is itself a determination of its
environment. Also it is a determinant, both of that which precedes and
that which follows.

But whether these manifold interdeterminations are after all
haphazard, or, as in music, controlled in relation to the beauty of
the whole, we know not; nor whether, if this is the case, the
beautiful whole of things is the work of some mind; nor yet whether
some mind admires it adequately as a whole of beauty.

But this we know: that we ourselves, when the spirit is most awake in
us, admire the Real as it is revealed to us, and salute its
dark-bright form with joy.



CHAPTER XVI. THE LAST OF MAN


I. SENTENCE OF DEATH


Ours has been essentially a philosophical age, in fact the supreme age
of philosophy. But a great practical problem has also concerned us. We
have had to prepare for the task of preserving humanity during a most
difficult period which was calculated to being about one hundred
million years hence, but might, in certain circumstances, be sprung
upon us at very short notice. Long ago the human inhabitants of Venus
believed that already in their day the sun was about to enter the
"white dwarf" phase, and that the time would therefore soon come when
their world would be frost-bound. This calculation was unduly
pessimistic; but we know now that, even allowing for the slight delay
caused by the great collision, the solar collapse must begin at some
date astronomically not very distant. We had planned that during the
comparatively brief period of the actual shrinkage, we would move our
planet steadily nearer to the sun, until finally it should settle in
the narrowest possible orbit.

Man would then be comfortably placed for a very long period. But in
the fullness of time there would come a far more serious crisis. The
sun would continue to cool, and at last man would no longer be able to
live by means of solar radiation. It would become necessary to
annihilate matter to supply the deficiency. The other planets might be
used for this purpose, and possibly the sun itself. Or, given the
sustenance for so long a voyage, man might boldly project his planet
into the neighbourhood of some younger star. Thenceforth, perhaps, he
might operate upon a far grander scale. He might explore and colonize
all suitable worlds in every corner of the galaxy, and organize
himself as a vast community of minded worlds. Even (so we dreamed) he
might achieve intercourse with other galaxies. It did not seem
impossible that man himself was the germ of the world-soul, which, we
still hope, is destined to awake for a while before the universal
decline, and to crown the eternal cosmos with its due of knowledge and
admiration, fleeting yet eternal. We dared to think that in some far
distant epoch the human spirit, clad in all wisdom, power, and
delight, might look back upon our primitive age with a certain
respect; no doubt with pity also and amusement, but none the less with
admiration for the spirit in us, still only half awake, and struggling
against great disabilities. In such a mood, half pity, half
admiration, we ourselves look back upon the primitive mankinds.

Our prospect has now suddenly and completely changed, for astronomers
have made a startling discovery, which assigns to man a speedy end.
His existence has ever been precarious. At any stage of his career he
might easily have been exterminated by some slight alteration of his
chemical environment, by a more than usually malignant microbe, by a
radical change of climate, or by the manifold effects of his own
folly. Twice already he has been almost destroyed by astronomical
events. How easily might it happen that the solar system, now rushing
through a somewhat more crowded region of the galaxy, should become
entangled with, or actually strike, a major astronomical body, and be
destroyed. But fate, as it turns out, has a more surprising end in
store for man.

Not long ago an unexpected alteration was observed to be taking place
in a near star. Through no discoverable cause, it began to change from
white to violet, and increase in brightness. Already it has attained
such extravagant brilliance that, though its actual disk remains a
mere point in our sky, its dazzling purple radiance illuminates our
nocturnal landscapes with hideous beauty. Our astronomers have
ascertained that this is no ordinary "nova," that it is not one of
those stars addicted to paroxysms of brilliance. It is something
unprecedented, a normal star suffering from a unique disease, a
fantastic acceleration of its vital process, a riotous squandering of
the energy which should have remained locked within its substance for
aeons. At the present rate it will be reduced either to an inert
cinder or to actual annihilation in a few thousand years. This
extraordinary event may possibly have been produced by unwise
tamperings on the part of intelligent beings in the star's
neighbourhood. But, indeed, since all matter at very high temperature
is in a state of unstable equilibrium, the cause may have been merely
some conjunction of natural circumstances.

The event was first regarded simply as an intriguing spectacle. But
further study roused a more serious interest. Our own planet, and
therefore the sun also, was suffering a continuous and increasing
bombardment of ethereal vibrations, most of which were of incredibly
high frequency, and of unknown potentiality. What would be their
effect upon the sun? After some centuries, certain astronomical bodies
in the neighbourhood of the deranged star were seen to be infected
with its disorder. Their fever increased the splendour of our night
sky, but it also confirmed our fears. We still hoped that the sun
might prove too distant to be seriously influenced, but careful
analysis now showed that this hope must be abandoned. The sun's
remoteness might cause a delay of some thousands of years before the
cumulative effects of the bombardment could start the disintegration;
but sooner or later the sun itself must be infected. Probably within
thirty thousand years life will be impossible anywhere within a vast
radius of the sun, so vast a radius that it is quite impossible to
propel our planet away fast enough to escape before the storm can
catch us.


2. BEHAVIOUR OF THE CONDEMNED


The discovery of this doom kindled in us unfamiliar emotions. Hitherto
humanity had seemed to be destined for a very long future, and the
individual himself had been accustomed to look forward to very many
thousands of years of personal life, ending in voluntary sleep. We had
of course often conceived, and even savoured in imagination, the
sudden destruction of our world. But now we faced it as a fact.
Outwardly every one behaved with perfect serenity, but inwardly every
mind was in turmoil. Not that there was any question of our falling
into panic or despair, for in this crisis our native detachment stood
us in good stead. But inevitably some time passed before our minds
became properly adjusted to the new prospect, before we could see our
fate outlined clearly and beautifully against the cosmic background.

Presently, however, we learned to contemplate the whole great saga of
man as a completed work of art, and to admire it no less for its
sudden and tragic end than for the promise in it which was not to be
fulfilled. Grief was now transfigured wholly into ecstasy. Defeat,
which had oppressed us with a sense of man's impotence and littleness
among the stars, brought us into a new sympathy and reverence for all
those myriads of beings in the past out of whose obscure strivings we
had been born. We saw the most brilliant of our own race and the
lowliest of our prehuman forerunners as essentially spirits of equal
excellence, though cast in diverse circumstances. When we looked round
on the heavens, and at the violet splendour which was to destroy us,
we were filled with awe and pity, awe for the inconceivable
potentiality of this bright host, pity for its self-thwarting effort
to fulfil itself as the universal spirit.

At this stage it seemed that there was nothing left for us to do but
to crowd as much excellence as possible into our remaining life, and
meet our end in the noblest manner. But now there came upon us once
more the rare experience of racial mentality. For a whole Neptunian
year every individual lived in an enraptured trance, in which, as the
racial mind, he or she resolved many ancient mysteries and saluted
many unexpected beauties. This ineffable experience, lived through
under the shadow of death, was the flower of man's whole being. But I
can tell nothing of it, save that when it was over we possessed, even
as individuals, a new peace, in which, strangely but harmoniously,
were blended grief, exaltation, and god-like laughter.

In consequence of this racial experience we found ourselves faced with
two tasks which had not before been contemplated. The one referred to
the future, the other to the past.

In respect of the future, we are now setting about the forlorn task of
disseminating among the stars the seeds of a new humanity. For this
purpose we shall make use of the pressure of radiation from the sun,
and chiefly the extravagantly potent radiation that will later be
available. We are hoping to devise extremely minute electro-magnetic
"wave-systems," akin to normal protons and electrons, which will be
individually capable of sailing forward upon the hurricane of solar
radiation at a speed not wholly incomparable with the speed of light
itself. This is a difficult task. But, further, these units must be so
cunningly inter-related that, in favourable conditions, they may tend
to combine to form spores of life, and to develop, not indeed into
human beings, but into lowly organisms with a definite evolutionary
bias toward the essentials of human nature. These objects we shall
project from beyond our atmosphere in immense quantities at certain
points of our planet's orbit, so that solar radiation may carry them
toward the most promising regions of the galaxy. The chance that any
of them will survive to reach their destination is small, and still
smaller the chance that any of them will find a suitable environment.
But if any of this human seed should fall upon good ground, it will
embark, we hope, upon a somewhat rapid biological evolution, and
produce in due season whatever complex organic forms are possible in
its environment. It will have a very real physiological bias toward
the evolution of intelligence. Indeed it will have a much greater bias
in that direction than occurred on the Earth in those sub-vital atomic
groupings from which terrestrial life eventually sprang.

It is just conceivable, then, that by extremely good fortune man may
still influence the future of this galaxy, not directly but through
his creature. But in the vast music of existence the actual theme of
mankind now ceases for ever. Finished, the long reiterations of man's
history; defeated, the whole proud enterprise of his maturity. The
stored experience of many mankinds must sink into oblivion, and
today's wisdom must vanish.

The other task which occupies us, that which relates to the past, is
one which may very well seem to you nonsensical.

We have long been able to enter into past minds and participate in
their experience. Hitherto we have been passive spectators merely, but
recently we have acquired the power of influencing past minds. This
seems an impossibility; for a past event is what it is, and how can it
conceivably be altered at a subsequent date, even in the minutest
respect?

Now it is true that past events are what they are, irrevocably; but in
certain cases some feature of a past event may depend on an event in
the far future. The past event would never have been as it actually
was (and is, eternally), if there had not been going to be a certain
future event, which, though not contemporaneous with the past event,
influences it directly in the sphere of eternal being. The passage of
events is real, and time is the successiveness of passing events; but
though events have passage, they have also eternal being. And in
certain rare cases mental events far separated in time determine one
another directly by way of eternity.

Our own minds have often been profoundly influenced by direct
inspection of past minds; and now we find that certain events of
certain past minds are determined by present events in our own present
minds. No doubt there are some past mental events which are what they
are by virtue of mental processes which we _shall_ perform but have
not yet performed.

Our historians and psychologists, engaged on direct inspection of past
minds, had often complained of certain "singular" points in past
minds, where the ordinary laws of psychology fail to give a full
explanation of the course of mental events; where, in fact, some
wholly unknown influence seemed to be at work. Later it was found
that, in some cases at least, this disturbance of the ordinary
principles of psychology corresponded with certain thoughts or desires
in the mind of the observer, living in our own age. Of course, only
such matters as could have significance to the past mind could
influence it at all. Thoughts and desires of ours which have no
meaning to the particular past individual fail to enter into his
experience. New ideas and new values are only to be introduced by
arranging familiar matter so that it may gain a new significance.
Nevertheless we now found ourselves in possession of an amazing power
of communicating with the past, and contributing to its thought and
action, though of course we could not _alter_ it.

But, it may he asked, what if, in respect of a particular
"singularity" in some past mind, we do not, after all, choose to
provide the necessary influence to account for it? The question is
meaningless. There is no possibility that we should not choose to
influence those past minds which are, as a matter of fact, dependent
on our influence. For it is in the sphere of eternity (wherein alone
we meet past minds), that we really make this free choice. And in the
sphere of time, though the choosing has relations with our modern age,
and may be said to occur in that age, it also has relations with the
past mind, and may be said to have occurred also long ago.

There are in some past minds singularities which are not the product
of any influence that we have exerted today. Some of these
singularities, no doubt, we shall ourselves produce on some occasion
before our destruction. But it may be that some are due to an
influence other than ours, perhaps to beings which, by good fortune,
may spring long hence from our forlorn seminal enterprise; or they may
be due perhaps to the cosmic mind, whose future occurrence and eternal
existence we earnestly desire. However that may be, there are a few
remarkable minds, scattered up and down past ages and even in the most
primitive human races, which suggest an influence other than our own.
They are so "singular" in one respect or another, that we cannot give
a perfectly clear psychological account of them in terms of the past
only; and yet we ourselves are not the instigators of their
singularity. Your Jesus, your Socrates, your Gautama, show traces of
this uniqueness. But the most original of all were too eccentric to
have any influence on their contemporaries. It is possible that in
ourselves also there are "singularities" which cannot be accounted for
wholly in terms of ordinary biological and psychological laws. If we
could prove that this is the case, we should have very definite
evidence of the occurrence of a high order of mentality somewhere in
the future, and therefore of its eternal existence. But hitherto this
problem has proved too subtle for us, even in the racial mode. It may
be that the mere fact that we have succeeded in attaining racial
mentality involves some remote future influence. It is even
conceivable that every creative advance that any mind has ever made
involves unwitting co-operation with the cosmic mind which, perhaps,
will awake at some date before the End.

We have two methods of influencing the past through past individuals;
for we can operate either upon minds of great originality and power,
or upon any average individual whose circumstances happen to suit our
purpose. In original minds we can only suggest some very vague
intuition, which is then "worked up" by the individual himself into
some form very different from that which we intended, but very potent
as a factor in the culture of his age. Average minds, on the other
hand, we can use as passive instruments for the conveyance of detailed
ideas. But in such cases the individual is incapable of working up the
material into a great and potent form, suited to his age.

But what is it, you may ask, that we seek to contribute to the past?
We seek to afford intuitions of truth and of value, which, though easy
to us from our point of vantage, would be impossible to the unaided
past. We seek to help the past to make the best of itself, just as one
man may help another. We seek to direct the attention of past
individuals and past races to truths and beauties which, though
implicit in their experience, would otherwise be overlooked.

We seek to do this for two reasons. Entering into past minds, we
become perfectly acquainted with them, and cannot but love them; and
so we desire to help them. By influencing selected individuals, we
seek to influence indirectly great multitudes. But our second motive
is very different. We see the career of Man in his successive
planetary homes as a process of very great beauty. It is far indeed
from the perfect; but it is very beautiful, with the beauty of tragic
art. Now it turns out that this beautiful thing entails our operation
at various points in the past. Therefore we will to operate.

Unfortunately our first inexperienced efforts were disastrous. Many of
the fatuities which primitive minds in all ages have been prone to
attribute to the influence of disembodied spirits, whether deities,
fiends, or the dead, are but the gibberish which resulted from our
earliest experiments. And this book, so admirable in our conception,
has issued from the brain of the writer, your contemporary, in such
disorder as to be mostly rubbish.

We are concerned with the past not only in so far as we make very rare
contributions to it, but chiefly in two other manners.

First, we are engaged upon the great enterprise of becoming lovingly
acquainted with the past, the human past, in every detail. This is, so
to speak, our supreme act of filial piety. When one being comes to
know and love another, a new and beautiful thing is created, namely
the love. The cosmos is thus far and at that date enhanced. We seek
then to know and love every past mind that we can enter. In most cases
we can know them with far more understanding than they can know
themselves. Not the least of them, not the worst of them, shall be
left out of this great work of understanding and admiration.

There is another manner in which we are concerned with the human past.
We need its help. For we, who are triumphantly reconciled to our fate,
are under obligation to devote our last energies not to ecstatic
contemplation but to a forlorn and most uncongenial task, the
dissemination. This task is almost intolerably repugnant to us. Gladly
would we spend our last days in embellishing our community and our
culture, and in pious exploration of the past. But it is incumbent on
us, who are by nature artists and philosophers, to direct the whole
attention of our world upon the arid labour of designing an artificial
human seed, producing it in immense quantities, and projecting it
among the stars. If there is to be any possibility of success, we must
undertake a very lengthy program of physical research, and finally
organize a world-wide system of manufacture. The work will not be
completed until our physical constitution is already being undermined,
and the disintegration of our community has already begun. Now we
could never fulfil this policy without a zealous conviction of its
importance. Here it is that the past can help us. We, who have now
learnt so thoroughly the supreme art of ecstatic fatalism, go humbly
to the past to learn over again that other supreme achievement of the
spirit, loyalty to the forces of life embattled against the forces of
death. Wandering among the heroic and often forlorn ventures of the
past, we are fired once more with primitive zeal. Thus, when we return
to our own world, we are able, even while we preserve in our hearts
the peace that passeth understanding, to struggle as though we cared
only for victory.


3. EPILOGUE


I am speaking to you now from a period about twenty thousand
terrestrial years after the date at which the whole preceding part of
this book was communicated. It has become very difficult to reach you,
and still more difficult to speak to you; for already the Last Men are
not the men they were.

Our two great undertakings are still unfinished. Much of the human
past remains imperfectly explored, and the projection of the seed is
scarcely begun. That enterprise has proved far more difficult than was
expected. Only within the last few years have we succeeded in
designing an artificial human dust capable of being carried forward on
the sun's radiation, hardy enough to endure the conditions of a
trans-galactic voyage of many millions of years, and yet intricate
enough to bear the potentiality of life and of spiritual development.
We are now preparing to manufacture this seminal matter in great
quantities, and to cast it into space at suitable points on the
planet's orbit.

Some centuries have now passed since the sun began to show the first
symptoms of disintegration, namely a slight change of colour toward
the blue, followed by a definite increase of brightness and heat.
Today, when he pierces the ever-thickening cloud, he smites us with an
intolerable steely brilliance which destroys the sight of anyone
foolish enough to face it. Even in the cloudy weather which is now
normal, the eye is wounded by the fierce violet glare. Eye-troubles
afflict us all, in spite of the special glasses which have been
designed to protect us. The mere heat, too, is already destructive. We
are forcing our planet outward from its old orbit in an ever-widening
spiral; but, do what we will, we cannot prevent the climate from
becoming more and more deadly, even at the poles. The intervening
regions have already been deserted. Evaporation of the equatorial
oceans has thrown the whole atmosphere into tumult, so that even at
the poles we are tormented by hot wet hurricanes and incredible
electric storms. These have already shattered most of our great
buildings, sometimes burying a whole teeming province under an
avalanche of tumbled vitreous crags.

Our two polar communities at first managed to maintain radio
communication; but it is now some time since we of the south received
news of the more distressed north. Even with us the situation is
already desperate. We had recently established some hundreds of
stations for the dissemination, but less than a score have been able
to operate. This failure is due mainly to an increasing lack of
personnel. The deluge of fantastic solar radiation has had disastrous
effect on the human organism. Epidemics of a malignant tumour, which
medical science has failed to conquer, have reduced the southern
people to a mere remnant, and this in spite of the migration of the
tropical races into the Antarctic. Each of us, moreover, is but the
wreckage of his former self. The higher mental functions, attained
only in the most developed human species, are already lost or
disordered, through the breakdown of their special tissues. Not only
has the racial mind vanished, but the sexual groups have lost their
mental unity. Three of the sub-sexes have already been exterminated by
derangement of their chemical nature. Glandular troubles, indeed, have
unhinged many of us with anxieties and loathings which we cannot
conquer, though we know them to be unreasonable. Even the normal power
of "telepathic" communication has become so unreliable that we have
been compelled to fall back upon the archaic practice of vocal
symbolism. Exploration of the past is now confined to specialists, and
is a dangerous profession, which may lead to disorders of temporal
experience.

Degeneration of the higher neural centres has also brought about in us
a far more serious and deep-seated trouble, namely a general spiritual
degradation which would formerly have seemed impossible, so confident
were we of our integrity. The perfectly dispassionate will had been
for many millions of years universal among us, and the corner-stone of
our whole society and culture. We had almost forgotten that it has a
physiological basis, and that if that basis were undermined, we might
no longer be capable of rational conduct. But, drenched for some
thousands of years by the unique stellar radiation, we have gradually
lost not only the ecstasy of dispassionate worship, but even the
capacity for normal disinterested behaviour. Every one is now liable
to an irrational bias in favour of himself as a private person, as
against his fellows. Personal envy, uncharitableness, even murder and
gratuitous cruelty, formerly unknown amongst us, are now becoming
common. At first when men began to notice in themselves these archaic
impulses, they crushed them with amused contempt. But as the
highest nerve centres fell further into decay, the brute in us began
to be ever more unruly, and the human more uncertain. Rational conduct
was henceforth to be achieved only after an exhausting and degrading
"moral struggle," instead of spontaneously and fluently. Nay, worse,
increasingly often the struggle ended not in victory but defeat.
Imagine then, the terror and disgust that gripped us when we found
ourselves one and all condemned to a desperate struggle against impulses
which we had been accustomed to regard as insane. It is distressing
enough to know that each one of us might at any moment, merely to help
some dear individual or other, betray his supreme duty toward the
dissemination; but it is harrowing to discover ourselves sometimes so
far sunk as to be incapable even of common loving-kindness toward our
neighbours. For a man to favour himself against his friend or beloved,
even in the slightest respect, was formerly unknown. But today many of
us are haunted by the look of amazed horror and pity in the eyes of an
injured friend.

In the early stages of our trouble lunatic asylums were founded, but
they soon became over-crowded and a burden on a stricken community.
The insane were then killed. But it became clear that by former
standards we were all insane. No man now can trust himself to behave
reasonably.

And, of course, we cannot trust each other. Partly through the
prevalent irrationality of desire, and partly through the
misunderstandings which have come with the loss of "telepathic"
communication, we have been plunged into all manner of discords. A
political constitution and system of laws had to be devised, but they
seem to have increased our troubles. Order of a kind is maintained by
an over-worked police force. But this is in the hands of the
professional organizers, who have now all the vices of bureaucracy. It
was largely through their folly that two of the antarctic nations
broke into social revolution, and are now preparing to meet the
armament which an insane world-government is devising for their
destruction. Meanwhile, through the break-down of the economic order,
and the impossibility of reaching the food-factories on Jupiter,
starvation is added to our troubles, and has afforded to certain
ingenious lunatics the opportunity of trading at the expense of
others.

All this folly in a doomed world, and in a community that was
yesterday the very flower of a galaxy! Those of us who still care for
the life of the spirit are tempted to regret that mankind did not
choose decent suicide before ever the putrescence began. But indeed
this could not be. The task that was undertaken had to be completed.
For the Scattering of the Seed has come to be for every one of us the
supreme religious duty. Even those who continually sin against it
recognize this as the last office of man. It was for this that we
outstayed our time, and must watch ourselves decline from spiritual
estate into that brutishness from which man has so seldom freed
himself.

Yet why do we persist in the forlorn effort? Even if by good luck the
seed should take root somewhere and thrive, there will surely come an
end to its adventure, if not swiftly in fire, then in the ultimate
battle of life against encroaching frost. Our labour will at best sow
for death an ampler harvest. There seems no rational defence of it,
unless it be rational to carry out blindly a purpose conceived in a
former and more enlightened state.

But we cannot feel sure that we really were more enlightened. We look
back now at our former selves, with wonder, but also with
incomprehension and misgiving. We try to recall the glory that seemed
to be revealed to each of us in the racial mind, but we remember
almost nothing of it. We cannot rise even to that more homely
beatitude which was once within the reach of the unaided individual,
that serenity which, it seemed, should be the spirit's answer to every
tragic event. It is gone from us. It is not only impossible but
inconceivable. We now see our private distresses and the public
calamity as merely hideous. That after so long a struggle into
maturity man should be roasted alive like a trapped mouse, for the
entertainment of a lunatic! How can any beauty lie in that?

But this is not our last word to you. For though we have fallen, there
is still something in us left over from the time that is passed. We
have become blind and weak; but the knowledge that we are so has
forced us to a great effort. Those of us who have not already sunk too
far have formed themselves into a brotherhood for mutual
strengthening, so that the true human spirit may be maintained a
little longer, until the seed has been well sown, and death be
permissible. We call ourselves the Brotherhood of the Condemned. We
seek to be faithful to one another, and to our common undertaking, and
to the vision which is no longer revealed. We are vowed to the
comforting of all distressed persons who are not yet permitted death.
We are vowed also to the dissemination. And we are vowed to keep the
spirit bright until the end.

Now and again we meet together in little groups or great companies to
hearten ourselves with one another's presence. Sometimes on these
occasions we can but sit in silence, groping for consolation and for
strength. Sometimes the spoken word flickers hither and thither
amongst us, shedding a brief light but little warmth to the soul that
lies freezing in a torrid world.

But there is among us one, moving from place to place and company to
company, whose voice all long to hear. He is young, the last born of
the Last Men; for he was the latest to be conceived before we learned
man's doom, and put an end to all conceiving. Being the latest, he is
also the noblest. Not him alone, but all his generation, we salute,
and look to for strength; but he, the youngest, is different from the
rest. In him the spirit, which is but the flesh awakened into
spirituality, has power to withstand the tempest of solar energy
longer than the rest of us. It is as though the sun itself were
eclipsed by this spirit's brightness. It is as though in him at last,
and for a day only, man's promise were fulfilled. For though, like
others, he suffers in the flesh, he is above his suffering. And though
more than the rest of us he feels the suffering of others, he is above
his pity. In his comforting there is a strange sweet raillery which
can persuade the sufferer to smile at his own pain. When this youngest
brother of ours contemplates with us our dying world and the
frustration of all man's striving, he is not, like us, dismayed, but
quiet. In the presence of such quietness despair wakens into peace. By
his reasonable speech, almost by the mere sound of his voice, our eyes
are opened, and our hearts mysteriously filled with exultation. Yet
often his words are grave.

Let his words, not mine, close this story:

Great are the stars, and man is of no account to them. But man is a
fair spirit, whom a star conceived and a star kills. He is greater
than those bright blind companies. For though in them there is
incalculable potentiality, in him there is achievement, small, but
actual. Too soon, seemingly, he comes to his end. But when he is done
he will not be nothing, not as though he had never been; for he is
eternally a beauty in the eternal form of things.

Man was winged hopefully. He had in him to go further than this short
flight, now ending. He proposed even that he should become the Flower
of All Things, and that he should learn to be the All-Knowing, the
All-Admiring. Instead, he is to be destroyed. He is only a fledgling
caught in a bush-fire. He is very small, very simple, very little
capable of insight. His knowledge of the great orb of things is but a
fledgling's knowledge. His admiration is a nestling's admiration for
the things kindly to his own small nature. He delights only in food
and the food-announcing call. The music of the spheres passes over
him, through him, and is not heard.

Yet it has used him. And now it uses his destruction. Great, and
terrible, and very beautiful is the Whole; and for man the best is
that the Whole should use him.

But does it really use him? Is the beauty of the Whole really enhanced
by our agony? And is the Whole really beautiful? And what is beauty?
Throughout all his existence man has been striving to hear the music
of the spheres, and has seemed to himself once and again to catch some
phrase of it, or even a hint of the whole form of it. Yet he can never
be sure that he has truly heard it, nor even that there is any such
perfect music at all to be heard. Inevitably so, for if it exists, it
is not for him in his littleness.

But one thing is certain. Man himself, at the very least, is music, a
brave theme that makes music also of its vast accompaniment, its
matrix of storms and stars. Man himself in his degree is eternally a
beauty in the eternal form of things. It is very good to have been
man. And so we may go forward together with laughter in our hearts,
and peace, thankful for the past, and for our own courage. For we
shall make after all a fair conclusion to this brief music that is
man.



THE END




This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia

, but we remember almost nothing of it. We cannot rise even to that more homely beatitude which was once within the reach of the unaided individual, that serenity which, it seemed, should be the spirit's answer to every tragic event. It is gone from us. It is not only impossible but inconceivable. We now see our private distresses and the public calamity as merely hideous. That after so long a struggle into maturity man should be roasted alive like a trapped mouse, for the entertainment of a lunatic! How can any beauty lie in that? But this is not our last word to you. For though we have fallen, there is still something in us left over from the time that is passed. We have become blind and weak; but the knowledge that we are so has forced us to a great effort. Those of us who have not already sunk too far have formed themselves into a brotherhood for mutual strengthening, so that the true human spirit may be maintained a little longer, until the seed has been well sown, and death be permissible. We call ourselves the Brotherhood of the Condemned. We seek to be faithful to one another, and to our common undertaking, and to the vision which is no longer revealed. We are vowed to the comforting of all distressed persons who are not yet permitted death. We are vowed also to the dissemination. And we are vowed to keep the spirit bright until the end. Now and again we meet together in little groups or great companies to hearten ourselves with one another's presence. Sometimes on these occasions we can but sit in silence, groping for consolation and for strength. Sometimes the spoken word flickers hither and thither amongst us, shedding a brief light but little warmth to the soul that lies freezing in a torrid world. But there is among us one, moving from place to place and company to company, whose voice all long to hear. He is young, the last born of the Last Men; for he was the latest to be conceived before we learned man's doom, and put an end to all conceiving. Being the latest, he is also the noblest. Not him alone, but all his generation, we salute, and look to for strength; but he, the youngest, is different from the rest. In him the spirit, which is but the flesh awakened into spirituality, has power to withstand the tempest of solar energy longer than the rest of us. It is as though the sun itself were eclipsed by this spirit's brightness. It is as though in him at last, and for a day only, man's promise were fulfilled. For though, like others, he suffers in the flesh, he is above his suffering. And though more than the rest of us he feels the suffering of others, he is above his pity. In his comforting there is a strange sweet raillery which can persuade the sufferer to smile at his own pain. When this youngest brother of ours contemplates with us our dying world and the frustration of all man's striving, he is not, like us, dismayed, but quiet. In the presence of such quietness despair wakens into peace. By his reasonable speech, almost by the mere sound of his voice, our eyes are opened, and our hearts mysteriously filled with exultation. Yet often his words are grave. Let his words, not mine, close this story: Great are the stars, and man is of no account to them. But man is a fair spirit, whom a star conceived and a star kills. He is greater than those bright blind companies. For though in them there is incalculable potentiality, in him there is achievement, small, but actual. Too soon, seemingly, he comes to his end. But when he is done he will not be nothing, not as though he had never been; for he is eternally a beauty in the eternal form of things. Man was winged hopefully. He had in him to go further than this short flight, now ending. He proposed even that he should become the Flower of All Things, and that he should learn to be the All-Knowing, the All-Admiring. Instead, he is to be destroyed. He is only a fledgling caught in a bush-fire. He is very small, very simple, very little capable of insight. His knowledge of the great orb of things is but a fledgling's knowledge. His admiration is a nestling's admiration for the things kindly to his own small nature. He delights only in food and the food-announcing call. The music of the spheres passes over him, through him, and is not heard. Yet it has used him. And now it uses his destruction. Great, and terrible, and very beautiful is the Whole; and for man the best is that the Whole should use him. But does it really use him? Is the beauty of the Whole really enhanced by our agony? And is the Whole really beautiful? And what is beauty? Throughout all his existence man has been striving to hear the music of the spheres, and has seemed to himself once and again to catch some phrase of it, or even a hint of the whole form of it. Yet he can never be sure that he has truly heard it, nor even that there is any such perfect music at all to be heard. Inevitably so, for if it exists, it is not for him in his littleness. But one thing is certain. Man himself, at the very least, is music, a brave theme that makes music also of its vast accompaniment, its matrix of storms and stars. Man himself in his degree is eternally a beauty in the eternal form of things. It is very good to have been man. And so we may go forward together with laughter in our hearts, and peace, thankful for the past, and for our own courage. For we shall make after all a fair conclusion to this brief music that is man. THE END

This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia